The Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards Report is prepared annually by the Australian Government Office for Women. It reports on the government’s commitment of women holding 50 per cent of Australian Government board positions overall, and women and men each holding at least 40 per cent of positions at the individual board level.
Why is gender balance important?
Gender balance is about enabling all Australians – women and men – to reach their full potential to contribute to and benefit from economic, social, cultural and political participation. Women's equal participation in high level decision-making roles is an important and visible form of participation and is one of the most important investments for our country’s future.
Evidence from the private sector indicates that gender balance at the board level increases performance through improved governance, decision-making and financial returns.
Through setting a gender balance target and supporting ministers and their portfolios to meet the target, the government is not only improving the performance of its boards, but also providing leadership to both the public and private sectors on how we view women in the nation's top leadership roles, and the contributions women make to these roles.
There is a range of initiatives to support ministers and their portfolios to meet the gender balance target. This includes the BoardLinks programme, including the BoardLinks database and BoardLinks Champions. The database connects Australia’s industry leading women with opportunities to be considered for Australian Government board appointments. The database is used by the Australian Government to source candidates for appointment to Australian Government boards. BoardLinks Champions advocate and publicly promote the government’s gender diversity initiative. They identify and encourage strong female candidates to consider Australian Government board positions. They also work directly with ministers and their departments to promote gender balanced boards.
Guidelines for gender balance reporting of Australian Government boards
Not all appointments to government boards are reportable. Boards that are within the scope of gender balance reporting are:
- bodies covered by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act),
- ministerial advisory committees,
- review committees where the appointments are made by a minister or Cabinet, and
- Commonwealth Statutory Authorities.
Within this subset of boards, only appointments that have some level of input or sign-off from particular representatives of the government are included, that is:
- the Prime Minister alone,
- one or more Australian Government ministers,
- the Governor-General in Council, and
Gender balance reporting excludes appointments that are:
- to a Commonwealth court or tribunal,
- formally elected with no formal government approval,
- nominated by a third party with no formal government approval,
- of a particular office-holder to a particular board or committee required by legislation (ex-officio appointments),
- appointed by an organisation without government involvement,
- nominated by a state or territory government without Australian Government approval,
- nominated by a government of another country without Australian Government approval, or
- acting appointments (appointments of six months or less).
Reportable appointments must have a person filling the position during the period covered by the report to be included.
Employees engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 or other enabling legislation are not included unless the engagement is for the specific purpose of serving on an Australian Government decision-making or advisory board, committee, council or similar.
Boards that comprise only one person are not included; however, a board that has several members and only one member is reportable is included.
New appointments are appointments made during the reporting period, which fulfil all of the criteria above but do not require the successful candidate to be formally working in the role on the final day of the reporting period. These do not include re-appointments.