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Corporate Australia may soon have access to an expanded pipeline of women with board experience, following a new initiative announced today that aims to help women get on their first government board.
Speaking at a CEDA Women in Leadership lunch in Adelaide, the Minister for Finance Penny Wong said the new Women on Boards Network will help build connections between potential board candidates and government, with an aim to 'spring" women onto their first board.
"One of the obstacles confronted by women across all sectors is that prior board experience is often required for appointments," Wong said.
"With women holding so few board positions across the country, this practice amounts to a structural impediment."
Supported by the Department of Finance and Deregulation and the Office for Women, Wong said she will be calling on business leaders, advocate groups and stakeholders to get involved in the network, before formerly launching the initiative later this year.
She added that although Australian Government boards were on track to reach their target of 40% female representation by 2015, finding female candidates to fill such positions was difficult.
"We find that it is often the same candidates being put forward time and time again," she said.
"This is not to say they aren't well-qualified for these roles – of course not – but we often struggle to identify the many more talented women we all know are out there."
Wong said that for boards in the public and private sector, diversity is not simply an issue of representation.
"It is an issue of ability ... If we're not fully utilising the capacity and talents of over half of the population, then we're holding ourselves back."
Read Wong's full speech here.
This article first appeared at Women's Agenda.