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  • Writer's pictureDavid Brine

ALBEI Q4 update on board diversity in Australia (November 2023)

Please read this latest update on the discussion on broader diversity in the boardroom across Australia, and what is coming up as we launch our entity.


In this edition read about:

 

ALBEI not-for-profit is born!

We are launching the first ever Australian based not-for-profit organisation to support, represent and develop LGBTQ+ senior leaders as C-suite executives and directors in Australia. ALBEI aims to also collaborate with other under-represented groups on boards and in senior leadership in Australia.


From ALBEI’s early research we find only 0.6% of Directors on the ASX200 openly identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ community. We believe that there are many talented members of the community currently being overlooked or on the fringes of traditional business and social networks. There is a similar lack of representation on executive committees in Australia. Improved board and executive diversity makes business sense through better decision making and better conversations.


It has been a couple of months since we have updated you all and we have been working quietly in the background to develop our infrastructure. We have been working on the best way to support LGBTQ+ senior leaders and executives. Thanks to everyone who has generously spent time with us and for your help, support and advice so far.


The working group has now established a not-for-profit called the Australian LGBTQ Board and Executive Inclusion Forum (ALBEI). ALBEI is a member-based organisation which promotes enhanced representation of LGBTQ+ people on boards and on executive teams. We are designing programs to help the pipeline of talented LGBTQ+ executives gain board and executive positions.

We now have new branding and website www.albei.org, as well as a LinkedIn page here - www.linkedin.com/company/australian-lgbtqia-board-and-executive-inclusion/. Please check them out and subscribe to keep up to date!


The formal launch of ALBEI will be on Thursday, 29 February 2024 and will be kindly hosted by Corrs Chambers Westgarth in their stunning Sydney offices on Bridge Street. ALBEI will have an exciting program of research to share with our members at the launch.


Why a not-for-profit?

We believe that the establishment of a not-for-profit with tax deductible status (currently being applied for) is the best way to serve the community and ensure that donations and revenue are fully applied to where it matters for those in the LGBTQ+ community.


We are keen to discuss sponsorship and pro-bono arrangements with firms in Australia who want to be in front of this discussion, so that we can continue to develop and release research on board diversity in Australia and directors duties in relation to board diversity. We want to thank Corrs Chambers Westgarth for their generous assistance in establishing ALBEI.


Inaugural advisory group

The new NFP has a foundational governance board of four directors - you can take a look at who we are on our website here. We all recently came together as part of the formalisation of the entity as well as agreeing our priorities. The initial board is made up of a group of passionate senior executives and directors with experience in governance, legal, digital, data and leadership engagement.


We are keen to have the group enhanced through a more diverse set of skills and backgrounds.






ALBEI will also be establishing an advisory board in due course, made up of senior LGBTQ+ leaders and senior allies across Australian industry and business.

 

Spreading the word over the last few months

While the debate regarding 'The Voice' referendum was in full swing across Australia, ALBEI decided to concentrate on staying in the background and getting our infrastructure up and running.


There was still a great deal of activity by the ALBEI team in the last quarter to help keep the discussions going about representation in the boardroom:

  • Meeting with Chairs of Boards and Committees to discuss board diversity;

  • Discussing board diversity policies with the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors who have been actively advising superannuation funds on gender diversity on boards;

  • Discussing directors duties and how they relate to diversity with a number of senior barristers; and

  • Collaborating with other advocacy groups regarding board diversity;

  • Developing a plan for the Labor party to extend its party rules to go beyond gender.

  • Worked with the Actuaries Institute of Australia regarding a submission to the ABS on Australian Census LGBTQ+ questions.

 

ALBEI is part of a global conversation - inspiring gathering in New York

Our colleagues in North America recently held a summit focused on representation in the boardroom in New York with an impressive group of senior LGBTQ executives and directors from both the USA and Canada.

The inaugural conference ended with a powerful speech by Fabrice Houdart, the founder of the US Association of LGBTQ+ Corporate Directors just prior to ringing NASDAQ closing bell. Listen to Fabrice's speech here on LinkedIn - NASDAQ closing bell speech.


Staying in the USA, Bloomberg Law had a piece this week reminding us that “By the end of the year [December 31, 2023], any listed company that does not have at least one female director and at least one minority or LGBTQ+ on its board must publicly disclose the reasons for it”. According to the article, 30% of these companies don’t have a diverse Board member. On a side note, the below graph also shows that the percentage of companies with an LGBTQ+ or Hispanic Board member decreased slightly between 2022 and 2023.

 

Our successful community members

It’s great to see members of the LGBTQ+ community be appointed to some exciting new roles over the last few months. In future newsletters we will be showcasing these exciting developments.


The oft quoted “You can’t be what you can’t see” is incredibly important and we at ALBEI believe that visibility is important but that visibility is also a personal decision. Prior to showcasing anyone we will request your consent - and ask you a few questions!

 

Coming next from ALBEI....

To keep updated on ABEI’s developments you can subscribe at the bottom of our website.


SAVE THE DATE for Thursday 29 February 2024 if you think you will be in Sydney for the Lesbian & Gay Mardi Gras - for the formal launch of ALBEI and also the sharing of the latest research about Australian companies, plus a call to action for change. Formal invitations will be issued nearer the time.

 

Inspired to join the discussion?

Interested in helping or have ideas on what priorities could be? Reach out to the ALBEI team here, or directly via our LinkedIn page.


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