AbstractThis study investigated the internal organisational barriers to individuals from a demographically diverse background being appointed as an independent non-executive director (INED) of a Northern Territory (Australia) organisation. Since the end of World War II in 1945, Australia has evolved into an egalitarian heterogeneous multicultural society. Nevertheless, boards of directors (BoDs) have remained homogeneous and dominated by privileged, white, middle-aged men from the ‘old boy’s network’. As a result of this incongruence, the demographic composition of Australia’s boardrooms has been a much discussed, debated and researched topic. The focus of previous research has, however, been on the gender diversity of large profit-making listed organisations located in the densely populated metropolitan regions of Australia. This study aimed to broaden the discussion by embracing a more inclusive holistic definition of demographic diversity at the board level. The study investigated the internal organisational barriers to diversity in the boardroom among three types of organisations: profit, not-for-profit and government organisations. Collectively, the inclusive definition of demographic diversity in the boardroom among these three organisational types in regional and remote parts of Australia more often than not is ignored when discussing the diversity of the country’s INEDs.
For that reason, the question of what are the internal organisational barriers to people from demographically diverse backgrounds being appointed as INEDs of Northern Territory organisations has remained unanswered. Thus, based on the foundation of a research paradigm of pragmatism, this study employed a sequential exploratory mixed methods research design to answer this question. In Phase One of the study, qualitative data were collected from two data sources to uncover the salient internal organisational barriers to diversity in the boardroom. The first data source was INEDs from demographically diverse backgrounds and the second was spokespeople from peak industry bodies representing organisations with BoDs. Phase Two of the study collected quantitative data to further explore the observations from the qualitative phase. In Phase Two, an online survey was sent to independent and non-independent directors of Northern Territory organisations.
The qualitative data analysis revealed six organisational barriers that either prevented or inhibited people from demographically diverse backgrounds being appointed as INEDs of Northern Territory organisations. However, the results of the quantitative analysis did not support this position, determining that the internal organisational barriers identified in Phase One were not sufficiently significant to preclude people from demographically diverse backgrounds being appointed as INEDs. However, the study also found that the participants from both phases considered that having a formal board diversity policy would promote and encourage demographic diversity in the boardroom. As a result, for Northern Territory boards to be more inclusive of people from a variety of demographic backgrounds, BoDs may need to consider creating formal diversity in the boardroom policies. Another important finding from the study was that contrary to the literature’s assertions about boardrooms being dominated by men, Northern Territory boardrooms had an equal representation of female and male directors. The study determined that geographical factors may also inhibit individuals from demographically diverse backgrounds being appointed as INEDs of Northern Territory organisations.
|Date of Award||Jun 2017|
|Supervisor||Susan Bandias (Supervisor) & Rajeev Sharma (Supervisor)|