Australia’s top 20 companies hit 40% women on board

Australia stock

Australia’s top 20 ranked companies made history this quarter (Q2 2023) achieving an aggregate 40 per cent women on their boards.

This success reflects the long-term efforts of chairs, boards, regulators, investors, executive search firms and campaigns like the 30% Club Australia that have ensured continued stakeholder scrutiny of appointments to listed boards.

Of course, the aggregate figures do not tell the whole story. Across the 759 directorships currently held by women in the ASX 300, an overwhelming number are non-executive directors (685) while just 37 are executive or managing directors including CEOs, and only 37 are chairs.

Read the full report to find out more about Australia’s progress toward gender equality in business leadership and 30% Club Australia’s work here

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Toxic workplace culture is not something unique to the CBI

Hanneke Smits

Corporate culture is often said to be defined by the worst act you allow to take place in your organisation. What is alleged to have taken place at the CBI exposes the very real human cost of failure.

As global chair of the 30% Club, a campaign that advocates for representation of women on the boards of some of the world’s biggest companies, I am deeply concerned by the failures that have engulfed the CBI. Our thoughts are with the women who have been victimised and we stand with them in solidarity.

Our fear at the 30% Club is that the failings currently under investigation are not limited to the CBI. Last year, Randstad reported that 72 per cent of women working in technology, healthcare, education and construction said they had either encountered or witnessed inappropriate behaviour from male colleagues at work. And analysis by the Scottish TUC reported that 85 per cent of women said that their reporting and experience of sexual harassment in the workplace was not taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. What is alleged to have happened at the CBI is indicative of this very issue.

A toxic workplace culture is a significant factor in the continued under-representation of women in business leadership and why gender equality can so often feel like a distant goal. We may be close to 40 per cent women on boards across the FTSE 100, but there are just nine female chief executives. We need greater representation of women at the top. Women should be taken seriously at work. Women, and quite frankly everyone, should be safe at work.

Hanneke Smits
Global Chair, The 30% Club

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

30% Club Ireland launches 2023 scholarships

30% Club Ireland

The 30% Club Ireland, whose aim is to achieve better gender balance at all levels in Irish businesses, has announced two new development opportunities for women in business – a 2023 programme of 27 postgraduate and executive education scholarships and, in partnership with AIB, 30 access opportunities for women in SMEs on the IMI/30% Club cross-company mentoring programme.

The scholarship programme, which is delivered in partnership with key education providers, covers a range of executive education disciplines including prestigious MBA programmes and technical masters programmes in STEM, Healthcare, Public Policy and other specialist areas. 

First offered in 2015, the annual programme aims to raise participation rates for women in, and general awareness of, executive education and to provide financial support for women interested in executive education, who may be limited by funding concerns. 


Gillian Harford, Country Executive with the 30% Club commented: “International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th. But it is about more than celebrating just one day, it is about taking real and practical steps that will help to bring about more balanced investment in talent and career progression.

“Having offered just three scholarships in year one, we are delighted now to be offering 27 scholarships for 2023”, said Ms Harford. “In addition to providing great opportunities for talented women, the programme gives us, and our education partners, the opportunity to encourage more diversity in executive classrooms for greater learning outcomes.”

The scholarship programme is open to all women and is not restricted to 30% Club member company supporters.

In partnership with AIB, the 30% Club has also announced a new 3-year initiative that will provide sponsored access for 30 women from the SME sector to the IMI/30% Club Cross Company Mentoring programme.  The IMI/30% Club programme started in 2015 and brings together experienced leaders and mid-career high potential individuals for mentoring focused on both professional and personal development.


Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Hanneke Smits welcomed as 30% Club global chair

Hanneke Smits
Our new Global Chair Hanneke Smits is CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management

The 30% Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management, as its fourth Global Chair, succeeding Ann Cairns.

Hanneke has been a long-time champion of improving gender diversity in the workplace. In 2015, she co-founded Level 20, a not-for-profit organisation established to inspire women to succeed in the private equity industry.

Hanneke also serves as Chair of Impetus, a venture philanthropy organisation that backs charities to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people.

At BNY Mellon, Hanneke is the Executive Sponsor of PRISM, the company’s LGBTQ+ employee group, and as CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management since October 2020, one of the largest asset managers in the world with $1.8 trillion in assets under management.

She has championed numerous initiatives such as Newton’s work with the Diversity Project to ensure that returning female portfolio managers were able to maintain their investment track record, and BNY Mellon’s partnership with Inspiring Girls through The Pathway to Inclusive Investment research in 2022, and being an early supporter of the UK’s #10000BlackInterns programme.

Hanneke succeeds Ann Cairns as global chair of the 30% Club.

Ann, who retired as Executive Vice Chair of Mastercard at the end of 2022, joined the campaign in 2019 as Co-Chair, working with the late Brenda Trenowden before becoming sole global Chair in 2020.

Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management, said:  “It is an honour to succeed Ann Cairns as Global Chair of the 30% Club and to continue its mission of increasing the number of women at board and senior management levels.

“The role of the 30% Club is as vital now as it was at launch in 2010. Even today, the baseline target of reaching 30% women – either at board or senior management level – remains a stretch for many organisations throughout the world. Reaching the campaign’s ultimate goal of gender parity will take significant effort and investment.

“I look forward to continuing to grow the 30% Club internationally and tackle a wider range of diversity challenges, inside and outside the boardroom.”

30% Club Global
Ann Cairns
Outgoing chair Ann Cairns expanded the 30% Club internationally

Under the leadership of Ann, the 30% Club formed new chapters in Mexico, Colombia and Chile and welcomed Poland, Ecuador and an investor group in France to the campaign.

Her involvement with UN Women’s Outstanding Women’s Leaders Group saw the 30% Club, Melinda French-Gates and the UN Foundation convene what is presumed to be the world’s biggest meeting of CEOs and company chairs to discuss gender equality in May 2021.

Cairns also broadened the UK chapter’s target to focus on racial equality, which included the launch of the Mission INCLUDE strand of the 30% Club’s world-leading and cross-company mentoring programme enabling individuals from all underrepresented groups to participate.

She also launched the Leaders for Race Equity CEO development programme last year in partnership with Change the Race Ratio and Moving Ahead.

Ann Cairns, outgoing Global Chair of the 30% Club, said: “On behalf of the members of the 30% Club, we are proud to welcome Hanneke as our new Global Chair. It will be invaluable to have a respected leader of Hanneke’s experience and calibre join the global campaign at a time when many companies are still struggling to achieve diversity at board and executive levels.

“In the UK, for instance, we may have reached 40% women on the boards of the FTSE 100, but the majority remain in non-executive roles; there are just 25% women at executive committee level and just eight female CEOs. Women of colour remain under-represented at every managerial and leadership level. We must continue to keep diversity and inclusion high on the agenda.”

This is the second time BNY Mellon Investment Management has taken a leadership role within the 30% Club. The campaign was launched in 2010 by Dame Helena Morrissey, who was the then CEO of Newton Investment Management, one of BNY Mellon Investment Management’s investment firms.

Newton and BNY Mellon Investment Management were early supporters of the campaign’s goals and helped encourage many chairs of Britain’s biggest companies to commit to the initial target of 30% women on their boards. This target was reached across the FTSE 100 in September 2019 and there are now 40% women on boards.

This transparency allows firms to learn together ‘what works’ for the fair inclusion of Black women in finance, professional services and big technology. Given that the pay gaps experienced by Black women are the largest in the sectors studied, making Black women the benchmark for real change within organisations is appropriate. 

Training, recruitment, operations, promotions, procurement, strategies, and policies should be evidently inclusive of Black women. The call for greater transparency through reporting, audits and monitoring of the progress of Black women will help ensure firms are on track.

The 30% Club would like to thank UK steering committee member Karin Barnick, a partner at executive search and leadership advisory firm Korn Ferry in London, who led the search for the new global chair on a pro bono basis. 

Work to do

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Investors given tool to boost gender equity in net zero race

The Women in Finance Climate Action Group has developed a framework to help financial institutions support women in the net zero transition and limit the negative impact of climate change on women.

The 30% Club is delighted to support the rollout of this first-of-its-kind framework specifically for private investors and the key role they play in financing net zero.

Integrating a gender lens into climate investments is important to value women as key stakeholders in solutions, to ensure not only a better path, a more ‘Just Transition’, but also a shorter one, unleashing the potential of women as changemakers, in finance and in who and what is being financed.


Women remain under-represented in climate finance


The Women in Finance Climate Group argues that whilst climate change disproportionately impacts women, women remain seriously under-represented in climate policy, climate decision-making and climate finance.

The Action Framework, created in collaboration with the Oliver Wyman Forum and 2X Global, is available to download here.

The Women in Finance Climate Action Group comprises women leaders from business, the public sector and civil society and includes Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF-UK and Sarah Breeden, Executive Director at the Bank of England.


Amanda Blanc, Aviva’s Group CEO, said: “Private capital is key to mobilising the trillions of dollars required over the next three decades to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. And yet the global private finance sector does not currently have the tools or incentives in place to evaluate and improve the impact of climate finance on gender equality.

“We need more data to measure the impact of specific climate investments or project financing on women and girls. We hope this Framework will give financial institutions what they need to begin to measure and deliver greater gender equality when taking action on net zero.”

Rupal Kantaria, Partner, Oliver Wyman Forum and head of climate for the 30% Club, added: “This first-of-its-kind Action Framework for investors embeds gender considerations into climate investment decisions. Both are critical for financing a faster and more just climate transition.”




Amanda Blanc and Rupal Kantaria

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

NEW: 30% Club Podcast – Episode 2 featuring Penny James & Nimesh Patel

More episodes coming soon!


Coming Soon: 30% Club Podcast

Stay tuned for the new 30% Club podcast, exclusively hosted by Ann Cairns, Chair of 30% Club and Executive Vice Chair of Mastercard. She’ll be meeting some of the leading women.

Read More »

Women in Leadership Scholarship Competition 2022


The Women in Leadership MBA scholarship is a collaboration between Henley, the 30% Club and Financial Times.

Now in its tenth year, the Women in Leadership scholarship is designed to offer practical support for the development of strong female talent and reflects the shared mission of the three partner institutions to encourage gender balance in leadership teams.

The competition is open to both women and men who have relevant experience in the workplace either in managing a team, running a project or planning strategy.

Entries need to answer, in no more than 800 words, the question:

“Would efforts to tackle climate change benefit from more women taking the lead?

Entries must be submitted using the official application form, which can be downloaded at the bottom of this article. The winner will receive a fully-funded place worth up to £39,500 on our part-time Executive MBA – Global or Flexible Executive MBA programme starting in September/October 2022.

Deadline for entry: 23 May 2022 at 5pm.

Judging panel

  • Dr Anne Dibley, Head of Post-Experience and Apprenticeshipprogrammes at Henley

  • Laura Whitcombe, Global Campaign Manager, 30% Club

  • Harriet Arnold, Assistant Editor, Financial Times Special Reports

  • Plus additional judges to be confirmed.

Judging criteria

It is important that participants draw not only on data, research and other evidence to support their arguments but also their own personal experience, which could include examples of initiatives they have worked on, or are in the process of designing.

We want submissions which make us think differently – challenge the status quo and demonstrate a real understanding of the dilemmas faced.

Up to 10 finalists will be shortlisted from all entries received by the deadline.

Participants do not need to apply for an MBA place before entering this competition, but are expected to check that they qualify for entry on to the programme

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

NEW: 30% Club Podcast – Episode 1 featuring Sharon Thorne

More episodes coming soon!

Brain tumour survivor on why Mission Include mentoring is so important for her

Jessica Jones

A year ago, commercial banker Jessica Jones underwent a life-saving operation to remove a brain tumour that left her unable to walk unassisted.

Since then, not only has the 38-year-old mum of three from Swansea returned to the job that she loves but she’s also embarking upon a journey of personal development by being mentored on the 30% Club cross-company mentoring programme Mission INCLUDE.

It was important to Jessica to explain this life-changing experience to her mentor at their first meeting in November. Her diagnosis 18 months earlier changed her outlook on life and her career and will be a big part of her mentoring journey.

At its core, Mission INCLUDE is a structured cross-company mentoring programme that expertly pairs senior business leaders with mentors outside of their industry to challenge and help them progress.

Jessica is a relationship director at NatWest with responsibility for financing SMEs with turnovers of up to £50 million. She has been paired with mentor Laura Pingree, a partner at accountancy firm BDO LLP, who specialises in energy and mining.

During their first meeting, Jessica revealed how the excitement of receiving a promotion in March 2020 was overshadowed, three months later, by the devastating news that she would require life-saving surgery.

“I didn’t want sympathy, but I wanted her to know the journey I’d been on and why I was so determined to get the most out of this experience,” she says.

Jessica explained to Laura that after suffering hearing loss, headaches and tinnitus since 2019, she saw her GP in June 2020, who prescribed migraine tablets. But when the symptoms didn’t improve after a couple of days, she was referred to hospital for a CT scan.

While waiting for that appointment, her blood pressure became abnormally high, so she attended Prince Phillip hospital in her hometown of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. After two days of tests – and while sat alone due to Covid restrictions – Jessica was given the devastating news that she had an acoustic neuroma causing pressure on her brain stem.

“I was in total shock. Hearing those words, ‘you’ve got a brain tumour’ was terrifying. I was absolutely petrified and burst into tears,” says Jessica.

Backlogs caused by the pandemic meant she had to wait until January 2021 for surgery.

During a gruelling 13-hour operation, which involved removing a section of skull from behind Jessica’s ear, surgeons successfully removed most of the tumour. They advised to leave a small part of the tumour which had grown around the facial nerve, so not to cause facial palsy. The procedure has left her with single sided deafness and a CROS hearing aid.

She was kept in hospital for two weeks. Covid restrictions meant that Jessica’s husband Mark and their daughters Ella who is eight, and five-year-old twins Emily and Lily, couldn’t visit her.

“I was unable to stand the first few days without vomiting due to the vertigo, and each day challenged myself a little more. Thanks to the support of the team there, I finally left the hospital trundling along on a Zimmer frame at the age of 37,” she says. “When I was home, I paid for weekly sessions with a neuro-physio who helped me build the confidence and strength to walk without the frame.”

Her diagnosis left her fatigued and sometimes unable to walk more than 2,000 steps a day, but in September 2021, Jessica was keen to return to the job that she loves.

Jessica's surgery scar
WhatsApp Image 2022-03-02 at 10.50.17

“Natwest has fully supported me since the moment I was diagnosed and on the path towards rehabilitation,” says Jessica. “We spoke about both my personal and career development and I explained that I thought that being mentored by someone outside of banking would help develop me as an individual. They recognised what I had been through – and the journey that still lies ahead – and I’m grateful they gave me special approval to take part in Mission INCLUDE.

“In the 14 years I’ve worked for NatWest, I’d previously been on excellent courses that were bank focused and I have always been very passionate and committed in taking responsibility for my career progression. I knew that I would benefit from having an outside mentor challenge me, hold me accountable and offer external perspective on my development.”

Jessica admits she was initially surprised by who she was paired with.

“When I first read Laura’s profile, I was unsure as to why we’d been put together as our experience looks so different on paper. But I soon realised we are so well matched. Our personalities are very, very different but whatever algorithms Moving Ahead use to match people, it definitely works!

“We are very open with each other about our lives and our experiences. You need that openness, otherwise the mentoring would be very scripted.”

At their most recent meeting in January, Laura challenged Jessica to apply to sit on a non-executive board during the nine-month programme – something that would help give her exposure to other business issues that could be of use to her in NatWest.

In preparation, she’s also been tasked with gathering 360° feedback from colleagues to see if the areas that Jessica thinks that she needs to develop align with those they suggest.

“I questioned who would want me on their board, but by sharing her own experiences, Laura was able to reassure me that I have transferable skills and that businesses in sectors outside of banking – and outside of my comfort zone – would welcome,” she says. “And I now realise the experience would greatly aid me in my development within NatWest.”

Aside from the one-to-one mentoring, Mission INCLUDE offers other benefits.

“The programme includes regular Zoom events with participants from around the world, masterclasses to get the best out your development, networking sessions with other mentees, and the opportunity to hear from fantastic, thought-provoking expert speakers,” she says.

A recent talk by coach Holiday Phillips on pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone resonated with her.

“On Christmas Eve, I received the news that the remainder of my tumour is stable and I’ll have yearly scans to monitor what is left of it,” she says. “Having the tumour has taught me is life is too short to be taken for granted and to keep pushing yourself, developing and reflecting. Sometimes that means doing things that you’re a little uncomfortable with, but you may never get the opportunity to do again if you don’t do them now. I want to push myself and do things that perhaps make me feel a little bit uncomfortable.”

Jessica can already see the benefits that the Mission INCLUDE programme will bring to her and NatWest.

“I am already learning lots that I can apply to my current role and future development. Having a mentor share their expertise and encouragement will also help equip me with new skills that I can bring to the bank to assist others,” she says.

And it’s not only at the bank that that Jessica wants to help others. Last month, she embarked on an ambitious 10,000 Steps a Day challenge to fundraise and raise awareness for Brain Tumour Research to help find a cure for the devastating disease as a way of thanking all those who helped her. She raised more than £2,500. If you would like to donate, click here for more information.

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

FTSE Women Leaders Review Launch


UK closes in on 40% women at board level

The UK has climbed to second in the international rankings for women’s representation at board level. 

Almost 40% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are now held by women, compared with 12.5% just ten years ago. And there are almost 38% women on board across the FTSE 350.

The data has been published in a new report by the Government-backed FTSE Women Leaders Review, which monitors women’s representation in 24,000 positions on FTSE 350 Boards and in Leadership teams of the UK’s biggest companies, building on the success of the previous Hampton-Alexander and Davies Reviews.


What this new data from the FTSE Women Leaders Review reiterates is that we don’t need mandates - aspirational targets change not just the numbers but also the culture inside companies.

Ann Cairns, 30% Club global chair

Key highlights from the report include:

  • Almost 40% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are now held by women, putting the UK second in international rankings for board representation.
  • FTSE 100, 250 and 350 all improved the number of women in Leadership roles in 2021, with the Government’s and 30% Club’s voluntary, business-led approach paying dividends.
  • The new review also sets out bold recommendations to build on this progress, including a voluntary target for FTSE 350 executive leadership teams to achieve 40% female representation by the end of 2025. It is currently less than 20%, according to BoardEx data.
  • It is also asking FTSE 350 companies to have at least one woman in the Chair, Senior Independent Director role on the Board and/or one woman in the CEO or CFO by the end of 2025. There are just 18 and 48 at present, that’s 5 and 14% respectively. 
  • The Review has also increased in scope beyond the FTSE 350 companies to include the largest 50 private companies in the UK by sales.

The 30% Club welcomes the extended focus of the Review. 
Deloitte web post graphic (6)

30% Club Global Chair Ann Cairns said: 

“The 30% Club, The Women in Finance Charter, Hampton Alexander (now the FTSE Women Leaders Review), the Parker Review and most recently 25×25 and the FCA/Bank of England white paper all have similar and complementary aims. Strategic collaboration will make all the difference in seeing the progress we’ve seen in the boardroom play out at executive committee level and result in more female CEOs and significantly more leadership opportunities for women of colour. We are a multi-racial society, and it’s high time our boards an executive leadership teams reflect that. 
“What this new data from the FTSE Women Leaders Review also reiterates is that we don’t need mandates – aspirational targets change not just the numbers but also the culture inside companies.” 

Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: 

“UK businesses have made enormous progress in recent years to ensure that everyone, whatever their background, can succeed on merit – and today’s findings highlight this with more women at the top table of Britain’s biggest companies than ever before.

“However, we should not rest on our laurels, and the FTSE Women Leaders Review will build on the success so far of our voluntary, business-led approach to increasing women’s representation on boards and in leadership, without the need for mandatory quotas.”

Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, said:

“It is excellent to see the progress being made, but we know there is more to be done. This Government is committed to levelling up all parts of our country, working to tackle inequality and promoting equality of opportunity, including at senior level, so everyone can thrive.”


Here are the four new recommendations of the FTSE Women Leaders Review in full:

The voluntary target for FTSE 350 Boards & for Leadership teams is increased to a minimum of 40% women’s representation by the end of 2025

  • FTSE 350 companies to have at least one woman in the Chair, Senior Independent Director role on the Board and/or one woman in the Chief Executive Officer or Finance Director role by the end of 2025
  • Extending the scope of the FTSE Women Leaders Review beyond FTSE 350 companies to include the largest 50 private companies in the UK by sales

These recommendations aim to increase gender balance further, bringing new focus to the appointment of women at the highest levels of British business, particularly in those companies that are still lagging behind.

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries