Tasmania takes another shot at boardroom equality

Tasmania has released a new strategy to ensure more women sit on government boards, after failing to meet the target it set five years ago.

Sarah Courtney

Minister for Women, Sarah Courtney, this month released the Women on Boards Strategy 2020-25, which says significant improvement has been made tackling gender equality and enhancing the diversity of boards.

“By implementing actions under the original strategy, we’ve encouraged participation by a diverse pool of women across Tasmania and ensured that greater consideration is given by government agencies in identifying and recruiting women with the relevant knowledge, skills and experience to fill our board vacancies,” the minister says.

But she says the government recognises there is more work to be done.

Since the 2015-20 Women on Boards Strategy was released, women’s representation on government boards and committees has increased from 33.8 per cent in June 2015 to 46.4 per cent in 2020.

However, that falls short of the benchmark contained in the 2015 strategy, which set a target of 50 per cent representation of women on Tasmanian government boards and committees.

Ms Courtney says the barriers contributing to the continued under-representation of women in positions of leadership, including board membership, are complex and hard to overcome

They include lack of flexible meeting practises, board culture, recruitment, unconscious bias, lack of networks and lack of confidence by women that they have all the skills needed to be selected.

The new strategy hopes to hit the 50 per cent target over the next five years, with a focus on bringing more women into leadership roles in non-traditional industries, such as construction, primary industries, engineering and fisheries.

It contains four focus areas including strengthening pathways, improving systems and processes for women, influencing change and monitoring gender equity.

A third of chairs on Tasmanian government boards and committees, and 63.6  per cent of deputy chairs, are currently women.

Women represent 46 per cent of directors across government business enterprises and state-owned enterprises.

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