The ASX Corporate Governance Council proposes new recommendations under its Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations requiring a listed company on an "if not why not" basis to:

  • establish a diversity policy that includes measurable objectives relating to gender as set by the board of the company and disclose it to the market in full or in summary
  • disclose in its annual report its achievement against the gender objectives set by the board
  • disclose in its annual report the proportion of women employees in the whole organisation, in senior management and on the board.

Implications

  The changes will compel listed companies to pursue diversity at all levels within the organisation and adopt and disclose appropriate gender objectives and policy.

Gender diversity will become an important issue for boards of listed companies and will require companies to focus on developing diversity policy with measurable objectives relating to gender in the next six months.

Companies should commence the process for establishing an appropriate policy and objectives that can be measured and against which company achievements may be reported annually as soon as possible.

Other proposals

There are also proposals to:

  • improve listed companies’ record keeping of analyst briefings, by providing guidance that companies keep a summary of topics discussed at group briefings with investors and analysts (including a list of persons present, and the time and place of the meeting), give advance notice of group briefings and make them widely accessible; and
  • elevating the guidance on the composition of a remuneration committee, with a majority of independent directors, chaired by an independent director and have at least three members, to a recommendation, requiring companies to report on an “if not why not” basis.

What's next

The ASX Corporate Governance Council expects to issue an exposure draft of the proposed changes for public consultation in early 2010 with the changes anticipated to be implemented on 1 July 2010.