Targets work

So that we don’t lose sight of our long term objectives, the Victorian Gender Equality Strategy establishes a framework for measuring and reporting on our progress.

I’m pro-quotas, I’m pro targets, and I think we should be made accountable in order to reach those numbers.

- Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

The value of targets

In March 2015 the Premier announced that women will make up 50% of all new appointments to courts and paid government boards in Victoria. This has seen a rise in representation of women from 39% in March 2015, to 49% as at September 2016.

The most effective targets are built up progressively over time to allow for sustained and enduring change.

Research undertaken by the Centre for Ethical Leadership demonstrates that targets and quotas are a valuable means to increase gender equality.

For example:

  • in France, women’s representation on state-owned boards rose from 30% in 2004 to 44% in 2010 after the introduction of quotas (40% representation of women) for all listed companies and non-listed companies with over 500 workers
  • in Australian businesses, new board appointments for women increased from 5% in 2009 to 27% in 2010 following the Australian Stock Exchange’s requirement for annual report disclosure of company objectives and progress towards gender equality.

Good intentions have never been enough to deliver equality for women. The most successful gender equality initiatives are those that apply challenging targets, backed by effective sanctions and incentives.

Just the beginning

That’s why the Victorian Government has adopted a set of targets which reflect our commitment to reform. These leadership targets will be added to when baseline data collection has been completed in other areas.

Building the evidence

A good strategy is designed to build the evidence of what works — research best practice initiatives, trialling them within a Victorian context and evaluating their impacts.

The emphasis will be on assessing the relationship between what we do, the resources we invest and the longer term results we achieve.

What works: AICD Targets

In 2015, the Australian Institute of Company Directors called for all boards, with particular emphasis on ASX 200 boards, to achieve a 30% target for women’s representation by the end of 2018. Since then they have been tracking the progress of companies and publishing the statistics in quarterly reports. The latest report shows that women make up 23% of ASX 200 boards.


What works: BHP Targets

In 2016 BHP Billiton has adopted an ambitious target to make half its workforce women by 2025. Women currently make up just 17% of its global workforce. The target covers its entire workforce including the board and senior managers, who are given a specific performance goal of lifting female representation by 3% each year.