Diverse directors the key to inclusive boardrooms

Gender diversity in the workplace has come a long way in Australia, with women comprising almost half of all employed people in Australia in 2022.

But that doesn’t extend to the halls of power, where women represent a substantially smaller share of leadership positions than men.

According to the latest results from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency dataset, women hold 17.6 per cent of chair positions and 31.2 per cent of directorships, and represent 19.4 per cent of CEOs and 34.5 per cent of key management personnel.

Additionally, almost a quarter of boards and governing bodies have no female directors, compared to less than one per cent with no male directors.

While there is reason for hope, with women comprising 41.8 per cent of new appointments to ASX 200 Boards as of November 30, 2021, more needs to be done to build this momentum.

But, while there are many women with the skills and experience required to make strong contributions to the boardroom, getting that initial position and building a board career can sometimes be a challenge.

Enter Carnaby, a freshly hatched advisory firm in Western Australia providing professional development support for people of diverse backgrounds to reach leadership positions.

Its vision is for a more inclusive boardroom culture in Australia, where better decisions and stronger governance are achieved through the representation of talented individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Named for the Carnaby Black Cockatoo, which is renowned for flocking together, the fledgling organisation operates with this spirit of collaboration at its core.

The firm offers director education, mentoring and events programs to emerging and aspiring leaders.

Carnaby recently graduated its first cohort of 15 women from its inaugural Hatch Director Onboard Program and is looking to further intakes for women, as well as tailored programs for other diverse cohorts.

The firm might be just learning to fly, but its three founders have long navigated the currents of corporate Australia.

Bronwyn Barnes is a WA Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, Suzanne Ardagh was the former WA state manager with the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and Daniel Smith is one of Australia’s leading experts in sustainability and ESG, stakeholder engagement and strategic communication.

Collectively, they have spent almost 60 years on boards spanning almost every sector imaginable.

In taking the next generation under their wing, Carnaby’s directors are hoping to make it easier for people of diverse backgrounds to follow them into boardrooms.

The Carnaby flock is just leaving the nest, but once it is in full flight, the sky’s the limit.

To learn more about Carnaby and to express interest in their programs, visit the Carnaby website here.

Note, ReGen Strategic executive chair and founder Daniel Smith is a founding partner of Carnaby.


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