Still a long way to go before gender diversity

In 2015, The Australian Financial Review stated:

The journey from the kitchen to the boardroom has been a long one for women …

Not much has changed, as the member for Indi has highlighted in her motion on leadership and gender diversity. I commend her for moving this motion. The figures the member for Indi quoted are appalling. The quest for greater representation of women on ASX boards has been going on for many years. It has been only in the last decade that we have got some greater transparency, thanks to the wonderful work of Women on Boards and the fact that they started to shine a light on the lack of diversity of women on Australian boards. The fact that in 2018 we are being told by the Australian Institute of Company Directors that the quest for 30 per cent female representation on ASX 200 boards has stalled is absolutely appalling. The fact that, according to the AICD report from last year, there were 25.4 per cent female directors, which is only marginally higher than the 25.3 per cent reached at the end of 2016 is absolutely appalling. The fact that at the time of the publication of the AICD report 11 ASX 200 companies still had no women on their boards is absolutely appalling.

Last year Stephen Mayne, a director of the Australian Shareholders Association, who has been a strong advocate of improved governance of publicly listed companies, argued:

… that women create necessary balance on boards that ultimately leads to better decision making in the complex world of corporate finance, takeovers and mergers.

He says many men are driven by their egos in the middle of a corporate raid, while women think more objectively and strategically.

New research from the BankWest Curtin Economics Centre found that increasing women's representation on boards can lower the incidence of company fraud. The study looked at 128 companies and the relationship between women on boards and corporate fraud.

I also commend the member for Indi for focusing on the lack of representation of women in the agricultural sector. I too have been advocating for this since last year, since it was highlighted by my sister, who's Australia's first female master of wine and an internationally renowned winemaker. When I saw her last year down in the member's electorate for my annual catch-up, she highlighted to me that women make up 50 per cent of winemaking and viticulture graduates but only comprise 10 per cent of the Australian wine industry workforce. So, even though 50 per cent of graduates coming out are women, they only comprise 10 per cent of the workforce. The lack of representation of women in that multibillion-dollar industry is outrageous.

A survey by wine identity Jane Thomson last year revealed 42 per cent of women knew or believed they were being paid less than their male counterparts. Two-thirds of women said they'd experienced sexist behaviour in the workplace and one in four women endured unfair treatment in regards to pregnancy, sick children or maternity leave. A quarter of the respondents believed they did not have equal career opportunities in their workplaces. These are shocking statistics for the wine industry, a multibillion-dollar industry that exports to the world.

So I'm calling on the women in the wine community and I'm calling on the wine industry itself to: first, improve the representation of women in industry; second, look at those systemic impediments to women staying in the industry because if you've got 50 per cent attending courses and only 10 per cent actually making it into the workforce, there's something seriously wrong, guys, and you need to fix it; third, establish a target for women as speakers at conferences—this is an issue I faced in the defence industry—panellists, judges and for judging, not just on local wine shows but also on national wine shows and international wine shows. It is not good enough in 2018 for one woman to be a judge on a panel of 10 other judges. That is unacceptable, particularly with the internationally renowned female winemakers we have right over the country. It is simply unacceptable. The wine industry needs to lift its game. I said to the wine industry last year that I was going to be focusing on the lack of diversity in this industry and I am going to continue to maintain a focus on this issue.

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