Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Women in the Workplace
That the Senate—
(a) notes the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors annual audit that shows just 15.5 per cent of board positions in ASX200 companies are held by women, and That the median company board is made up of 6 men and 1 woman;
(b) notes that companies with a greater proportion of women in senior management and board positions are more profitable; and
(c) calls on the Government to legislate to ensure ASX200 companies have a minimum of 40 per cent female board directors within the next 5 years.
I rise to express regret that so many women members of the Senate did not support the motion today relating to women in senior management and board position. Today is the United Nations Women's Breakfast here in Parliament House; on International Women's Day we had members of the coalition and the Labor Party speaking at breakfasts around the country about women's rights, but when it comes down to it, doing something is different. I urge women that it is not enough to say something; you have to actually do something.
The coalition is committed to fostering a culture within our nation where women are full and active participants in all spheres of public and private life across a wide range of decision-making positions. The coalition believes that high-level appointments of women should recognise merit and excellence rather than be based on some unilateral quota which could be intended or interpreted to placate women rather than promote excellence and advance the cause of Australian women. We hold the view that the appointment of women to boards for reasons other than merit and excellence could be counterproductive and work against the long-term interests of women. We believe that encouraging skilled and talented women to contribute to this country's decision making process is a far more effective way of increasing women's participation than relying on arbitrary quotas.
The coalition believes there is no job a woman should not aspire to. However, a woman should never be appointed to a role in an attempt to justify or satisfy an arbitrary quota or some presumed politically correct position. This is demeaning to women, and has the potential to hinder the aspirations of women and develop a second class of citizen.