IntroductionThe board of directors is one of the various internal control systems that are anticipated to guarantee that the interest of the staffs is strongly associated, regardless of whether it is an individual and institutional investor of a private corporation, or else the country in the case of public boards (Kang, Cheng & Gray, 2007). The functions of the boardsare mainly; enforcement of legal necessities, allocation of the general corporate policy, and guarantying of proficiency and resourceful organization (Billimoria & Piderit, 1994). Van der Walt et al (2006) point out that, board effectiveness relies upon numerous aspects for instance magnitude and composition, the leadership structure, and corporate governance evaluation mechanisms.
Current Status of Diversity on Boards of Directors Diversity on boards of directors is among the most noteworthy governance subjects at present experienced by the contemporary corporations in Australia; such diversity issues include; gender, age, race, ethnicity, multiplicity of idea, age, occupation knowledge and sovereignty of directors. Despite efforts by the Australian government and other non-governmental entities of promoting diversity on boards of directors in various corporations, there has been slow advancement of women and other under-represented issues in both the public and private sector boards.
“Observations made by commentators still have it that, corporate boards tend to be homogenous groups, largely composed of men of similar ages and with similar demographic, ethnic, educational professional backgrounds, as well as some evidence that correlates diversity at board level with enhanced corporate performance”1. 1. An excerpt from the Minister of Superannuation & Corporate Law, Senator Nick Sherry letter at the meeting of the ministerial council for corporations (MINCO) in March 2009, while his was lobbying for advice from the advisory committee on matters relating to board diversity.
The under-representation of women in the boards of listed public companies has been the underlining issue of diversity on boards in Australia. According to the Equal Opportunity for Women at the Workplace Agency (2008), the Australian census of women in leadership signifies that the proportion of women on boards of the ASX top 200 public listed companies is currently 8.3%, down from 8.7% in 2006. It also indicates that 51% of ASX top 200 companies have no female directors.
Further the census still reveals that the proportion of women in executive management positions in ASX top 200 companies is currently 10.7%, a decline from 12% in 2006 and 11.4% in 2004. The reasons for the relatively low representation of female directors in Australia include; reluctance of the public companies to realize the importance of gender diversity in the board, increase in the number of mining and energy industries, culture of works that do require longer hours in the places of work, exorbitant child care costs, and downsizing of the managers which could have been bias to women.
Another diversity issue is the age2 and country of birth3 director’s representation. It is renowned that the average age of public companies directors is 53 years, with the average age of directors of larger ASX listed companies being 59 years. The age factor is chiefly contributed by the ageing population of Australia. The 2009 report on diversity on boards of directors still had outstanding gaps in the verification founded on diversity on boards, this include; other under-represented groups for instance people with disabilities, and the selection procedure of non-executive directors.