The FINANCIAL -- The majority of Australia’s listed companies now have a gender diversity policy in place or plan to implement one, according to the findings of an independent report released by ASX today.
The ASX-commissioned report was conducted by KPMG and analysed compliance by 600 ASX-listed companies with the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s gender diversity Principles and Recommendations (the recommendations), which were introduced in 2011.
The Council’s recommendations provide listed companies with a reporting framework for gender diversity. The ASX Group said that it is not mandatory to follow the recommendations but ASX requires listed companies to disclose in their annual report the extent to which they have followed them during the reporting period. Where companies have not followed all of the recommendations, they must provide an explanation as to why (‘if not, why not’ reporting).
General findings: -- Key benefits of a diversity policy identified by companies included improved culture and corporate image, improvements to the bottom line, broadening skills and experience of workforce, access to broader talent pool and a better environment for generating ideas.
The most common disclosed diversity initiatives included mentoring and networking programs, flexible work arrangements, diversity committees, educational programs, pay equity reviews and proactive recruitment processes.
Larger companies are more likely to have diversity policies with measurable objectives and the data indicated there is a direct, positive correlation between the size of an entity (measured by market capitalisation) and the development of measurable objectives.
Ms Jillian Segal, non-executive director of ASX Limited said: “The findings show that there is a strong commitment to report on gender diversity among the vast majority of listed companies.
“Notably, Australia’s top 200 listed companies are setting a strong example with almost all of them reporting that they have diversity policies in place. Smaller listed companies that do not have policies in place indicated that their size and stage of development was a barrier to establishing a diversity policy.”
Mr Kevin Lewis, ASX Chief Compliance Officer said: “The framework provides a consistent set of criteria for listed entities to report on, while allowing those companies which do not adopt the recommendations to explain their reasons”.
The report notes that the next steps would be to improve the quality of disclosure by listed companies. This issue will be examined this year as part of the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s review of the Principles and Recommendations.