A report on the current state of women on boards in the community services industry

Gender parity in the workplace is a conversation that’s occurring in Australia and is the focus of many policy makers, politicians, business and community leaders.

The Government’s Participation and Leadership section of the Queensland Women’s Strategy (2016-2021) identifies the need to increase women’s participation and progression in leadership, senior management roles and Directors on Boards positions.

Here at CSIA, we share this priority with our focus squarely on the community services industry.

But to understand the current state of involvement of women in leadership, we needed to look at what is happening, at the gaps and opportunities.

CSIA partnered with the Office for Women, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to research the current state of gender parity of boards in the community services industry.

This resulted in the Towards Gender Parity: Women on Community Services Boards report.

CSIA CEO Belinda Drew said while representation of women is improving, there was more work to be done to improve gender parity at senior positions and on boards.

“Interestingly, we saw there is a high percentage of women on boards of organisations based in regional, rural and remote areas.

“The results then changed dramatically for boards of management of organisations across the South east corner of Queensland, with an average of only 35 per cent representation of women.

“What the report also highlights are the opportunities in the community services industry to improve the way board members are recruited and retained.

“Another is creating mentoring of young women towards leadership pathways as part of our succession planning and future proofing of the industry,” Ms Drew said.

The research in the report complements the work undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics and focusses on the profile of boards in the community services industry.

Ms Drew said that the report outlines some ideas that identified how to build further opportunities and the growth needed.

“Across the industry we need to create promotion strategies and stories of change detailing the value of gender diversity in leadership in community service organisations,” she said.

“More research needs to be completed into how the industry can recruit and retain the best Board members.

“Understanding the impact of informal and networked recruitment practices across board positions and senior leadership roles is critical,” she said.

The CSIA is hosting three breakfast events at Mt Isa, Townsville and Mackay to showcase the findings of the Towards Gender Parity: Women on Community Services Boards report.

Each event will have a key note speaker, who will share their own experience of leadership, and we’ll highlight the findings of our research, as well as discuss why gender parity is important to the community services industry.

The CSIA encourages women and men across our industry to attend the events as we discuss how we can work together to recruit and retain suitably skilled Board members. Consider bringing your current board members along to these events to join in and even lead the conversation.

Our partners from across all layers of government, academia and business are invited to join the conversation at each location.

You can register for an event here or email [email protected] to find out more.

While you on our website take a look at the leadership learnings from the profile of leaders in community services we released previously, recognising the role of women in our industry.