(pictured: Claire Braund)
In a stinging rebuke of the Federal Government’s reworked ‘BoardLinks’ program, Claire Braund, one of the founders of Women on Boards and respected gender diversity advocate, said last week the new program had “all the hallmarks of exclusivity and elitism” that people had been working so hard to remove.
The relaunch of BoardLinks took place at Kirribilli House last Wednesday (September 28), presided over by Senator Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment and Women. Women on Boards (WOB) was one of the affiliate organisations to BoardLinks, which was an initiative of the previous Labor Government in 2012.
In a blog on the Women on Boards website, Claire Braund says: “WOB ran a serious and transparent recruitment campaign across its membership and referred a significant number of suitably qualified and experienced women to BoardLinks. A number achieved board roles through this process. However, the initiative essentially died when Abbott and the Liberal Government came to power in 2013.
“This week’s re-launch reveals that the Government has reverted to the safe old formula of picking winners and building clubs. In what is a highly elitist approach, any woman seeking to be considered for an Australian Government board must be personally endorsed by an Australian Government Minister, an Australian Government Departmental Secretary or a BoardLinks ‘champion’, one of the 18 individuals listed on the website (with no explanation as to how they were chosen).”
Braund says that for the Australian Government to be endorsing a “partisan and elitist system” for nomination to its own boards and committees sends a strong signal to other sectors that they can “revert to their bad old ways”.
She says: “In the backward looking 2016 model, unless you know someone, are in the club or have enough push to knock down doors, then you won’t event make it to the shortlist – let alone a board or committee. Time for a better balance to be struck.”