Boards

30% female board a ‘doable’ target: Coca-Cola Amatil CEO

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The head of beverage and food processing giant Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), Alison Watkins, says a target of having 30% female membership of boards is not only desirable but doable. And she has proved it by hitting the female board percentage goal three years ahead of the deadline.

The board of CCA has managed to already reach the 30% target for 2018, set by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Three of the company’s eight board members are women: CEO Alison Watkins, and non-executive directors Ilana Atlas and Catherine Brenner.

So why has she been able to achieve that goal when other companies are so clearly failing to reach it?

“I think it a doable target and I think we have made a huge amount of progress,” Ms Watkins said during a Leadership Lunch at Sydney’s Centre for Independent Studies yesterday. “We’ve doubled the number of women directors in the ASX 200 (Australian Stock Exchange listed) companies over the last four to five years. So  I think we’re up to 23% or something similar now — having been just 10% four or five years ago.

“So I think 30% is very doable. On the CCA board we’re talking a couple of things that have had impact. We have a great chairman in David Gonski, who has been a very important advocate of gender diversity in the Australian corporate sector. And who leads by example.

“We have a small board — eight in total, of whom three are women — and that’s great.”

So what is stopping other companies from following suit and meeting the same levels of women members in the boardroom? Do we have to reach the stage where we’re essentially forcing a quota on companies?

“I think in what John Brogden and the AICD are proposing (with a 30% target), we are not actually forcing a quota,” Ms Watkins says.

“We are following a model that the United Kingdom has, which is really about the corporate sector recognising that this is important for them … and not being too prescriptive. It might be that 30% is a great target. I think that sometimes that might not be easier to do in a shorter timeframe than a longer timeframe.

“But the important thing is that you have a target that you move towards. And I actually think that if you look at the number of ASX 200 companies without any women directors right now, it’s a much smaller number than it was.

“We have made a lot of progress, and I think that if we continue that momentum we’ll hit 30% pretty comfortably, I would think.”

We certainly hope so, and we — and businesswomen everywhere — applaud Ms Watkins and the CCA board for spearheading the move towards gender equality in the boardroom. Our view is that 30% will be a great target to reach. And 50% will be even better.

About Amanda Rose

Founder and CEO of The Business Woman Media. Amanda Rose is also the only 'strategic connector', a brand strategist, keynote speaker and host of Amanda Rose TV. Connect with Amanda Rose on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or visit www.amandaroseofficial.com.

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