Each year, corporations registered under the CATSI Act are required to provide the details of directors in their general reports, including their age, name and title—for instance, Dr, Mr, Mrs, Ms. This report has relied on directors’ titles and first names, as reported in general reports, to identify gender.

Table 5: Average number of directors per board in the top 500 corporations, 2008–09 to 2014–15
  2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Average number of directors 7.6 7.9 7.7 8.0 7.8 7.9 8.1

At the time of reporting, four corporations in the top 500 were under special administration. In most cases when a special administrator is appointed, all director positions are vacated and the special administrator performs the role of the board. As a result these four corporations reported zero directors for 2014–15 and have therefore been excluded from the analysis to determine the ‘average number of directors per board’.

In 2014–15 there was a total of 4017 director positions in the top 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations. This represents an average of 8.1 directors per corporation. Since the publication of the first top 500 report, the average number of directors per corporation has remained consistently within the 7.6 to 8.1 range (table 5).

The smallest individual board had three directors and the largest had 57 directors. A greater number of corporations (325) had fewer directors than the average while 171 had a number above the average.

Figure 23: Gender of directors for the top 500 corporations, 2014–15

The gender of 66 directors (1.6 per cent) could not be determined as some corporations did not indicate gender-specific titles (for example Mr, Mrs, Ms) and the first names of their directors were also gender neutral (figure 23).

Excluding directors whose gender was not specified, the breakdown of male and female directorships was 47.2 per cent male compared to 52.8 per cent female. This is virtually unchanged from the previous financial year when there were 46.5 per cent male directors to 53.5 per cent female directors.

Strong female representation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation boards is not new. Since the Registrar began to document the gender split of directors through the top 500 reports, women have always been in the majority on boards. However, the representation of females has declined very slightly over the years (54.4 per cent in 2012–13; 53.5 per cent in 2013–14; and 52.8 per cent in 2014–15).

There were 19 all-male boards and 39 all-female boards. To some extent this may be explained by corporations choosing member/client representational models that reflect the business and objectives of the corporations. For example, a women’s centre is more than likely to have an all-female board.

Figure 24: Representation of women on boards, some comparisons [10]

Figure 24 compares female representation on boards in a range of sectors. The female representation on boards of the top 500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations (52.8 per cent) slipped below that of non-executive directors [11] in the not-for-profit community sector (53.5 per cent). However, the percentage was still considerably higher than for companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange ASX 200 (figure 24).