By Gemma Rafferty
The future looks rosy for the future placement of women
on boards and committees in Western Australia given the
response to the recent Women on Boards events.
The Women on Boards (WOB) Networking Evening with
Mentor Directors held in Perth in February was the most
successful event held in Australia with over 270 women
attendees all aspiring to position themselves on to boards.
Of these women, over 55 were rural women who had also
attended a seminar on Corporate Governance in the lead
up to the main event at Government House Ballroom.
It may sound silly but despite being on committees and
groups since my teenage years I had never asked myself
why women weren’t on the boards of large corporations.
It is for this exact reason that Women on Boards was
created. Their aim is to improve the gender balance on
Australian company boards. Currently women only make
up 7% of board members.
The buzz created by the 270 women including
30 mentor directors, both men and women, in the
Government House Ballroom was amazing. The
Networking evenings are organised so you have the
opportunity to meet at least two different mentor
directors and the opportunity to start creating important
networks.
Our mentor was Kerry Sanderson, Fremantle Port
Authority CEO and AWB board member. Kerry shared
with us what it was like to be a board director. She said
the most important thing was that you have to believe
that you have the talent and capability which will make
a difference on a board. Kerry believes there are three
types of board members – the dreamer, the financial
whiz and the person who will draw a line in the sand
and ask the hard questions.
After moving to the second table I had the opportunity of
sitting next to Rhonda Parker, Chief Executive Officer of
the Positive Ageing Foundation of Australia. She pointed
out that it’s important to set a goal, work out your
strategy, examine your skills set and have the stamina to
keep going. It was interesting to note that Rhonda felt
that simply being a woman wasn’t a good enough reason
to be on a board. She suggested that we use the old
boys’ network to get ahead.
One of the most important things I learnt was that it
really doesn’t matter if you are on the local P&C or the
Wesfarmers Board the principles of corporate
governance apply to all boards and committees.
The Perth WOB Steering Committee members are
working on more events so look out for more
opportunities throughout the year. Thank you to the
committee for putting together a wonderful event for
women of Western Australia.

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