In June, the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) released its fourth quarterly Gender Diversity Progress Report marking 12 months since we commenced reporting female appointments to ASX 200 boards.

The results show real progress. Female appointments to ASX 200 boards have tracked above 40 per cent so far in 2016, the highest rate since we began monitoring figures. The figures show that 23.6 per cent of all directors of ASX 200 companies were female at 31 May, compared to 8.3 per cent in 2009.

The solid performance in the first five months of the year gives us hope that Australia’s largest listed companies understand that gender diversity is not just common sense, but also good business sense. We applaud the chairs who have appointed more female directors and encourage others to follow their example. If these figures continue along this trend, we may well reach our 2018 target of 30 per cent female representation on ASX 200 boards.

Despite the continued work of the AICD, the 30% Club and others, and the fact that 53 companies have reached the 30 per cent target, there are still 20 companies in the ASX 200 without a single female director.

The challenge now is for all parties – chairs, non-executive directors, search consultants, investors and management – to ensure this issue remains centre stage and to assist with the identification of talented female directors.

I have on many occasions highlighted the AICD’s work in this space, in leadership, scholarships, mentoring and advocacy. And now we are listing the ASX 200 and identifying the diversity – or otherwise – of their boards. Transparency leads to accountability. Without accountability and ownership, the number of women on boards will not increase. We encourage all organisations to set numeric targets and start working towards better gender representation.

I also encourage you to read the full Gender Diversity Progress Report on our website.

July’s edition of Company Director features Nicola Wakefield Evans and highlights her hopes for the future of business and boards. Nicola is a firm supporter of gender and cultural diversity, believing gender and Asian cultural diversity to be equally important for Australians. She has extensive experience in Asia, and believes many Australians do not realise the extent of this relationship.

Nicola is the first woman to sit on the Toll board and was guided by mentor and chair Ray Horsburgh. She describes her early director career as lonely because she was not an employee of the organisation but, now as a non-executive director of seven organisations, she counts her career as enormously rewarding and values the people she meets, the knowledge she gains and the experiences she encounters with different cultures.

Nicola delivers insight into the board’s role in setting the culture of an organisation, including building a code of conduct that is implemented and reported on.

We applaud the chairs who have appointed more female directors and encourage others to follow their example.

In this edition we also delve into Aboriginal governance in the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation with chair Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM and CEO Alastair King outlining the importance of governance for performance and how the Aboriginal governance management program has brought about significant change.

Additionally, Sonya Clancy of The Big Issue discusses why breaking down business barriers to create a good company culture starts at the top. Sonya also discusses her career path, her experience in human resources and cites Brian Hartzer as a CEO with a strong focus on people and customer satisfaction.