Gender balance makes public sector boards more effective, more reflective

Research suggests boards which are more reflective of the community in terms of diversity are also more effective — and in the public sector, reflecting the community is not a bad thing. But will the government support a cross-bench senator’s hard target?

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon wants to force the Commonwealth government to meet its currently aspirational target for more women on government boards.

In 2012-13, 13 of 18 government boards met the target — 40% of each gender with 20% wiggle room — but the following year only nine met the goal.

Xenophon described the drop in the number of boards that met the target as “alarming” and commented that it was not reflective of the fact that 51% of Australians are female.

However, the 2012-13 figures from the Office for Women averaged across all 18 boards show the overall percentage of women hovering quite close to the target. In 2013-14, women made up 41% of the total pool of public sector board members, and 38% in 2013-14.

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