Governance News — November 2013

Gender diversity dominated the news this week with the launch of new initiatives by the Business Council of Australia, a group of executive recruitment firms and the Male Champions of Change, aimed at increasing the number of women in senior positions. The desirability and achievability of the initiatives were subsequently debated in the press by academics, commentators and industry participants. The issue of gender imbalances also featured overseas with a new UK report showing slow progress for gender diversity in FTSE 350 boardrooms.

David Jones has also been in the media spotlight with the press reporting that the board, and chairman in particular, are under pressure from investors over: the chief executive officer’s proposed departure and the board’s succession planning methods; shareholder transparency and the board’s interactions with management; the board’s composition; the remuneration report; and DJs’ share-trading policies. The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) is allegedly investigating recent share purchases by two non-executive directors just days before quarterly sales figures were announced to the market.

The focus on Wal King also continues with his proposed re-election to the Ausdrill board opposed. As well this week, UGL chairman Trevor Rowe strongly criticised the board culture that allegedly prevailed at Leighton Holdings while King was chief executive officer…

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