JB HiFi 2010 AGM gender transcript

October 14, 2010

Stephen Mayne: Thank you chair. I've just been at the CSL AGM earlier this morning. I was wondering if we can hear from either you or the CEO about how this company deals with gender diversity issues amongst board, executive and staff.

Chairman: Thank you Stephen for the question. I think everyone heard that was a question was in relation how does the company manage gender diversity and policy in respect of that both board level and through staff and management.

That will create for us a casual vacancy and we can take the opportunity, created by that casual vacancy, into talk of the appointment of a female director. We have had discussions with a number of potential candidates, and I'd like to think that we certainly would have someone signed who will make a pretty strong contribution in support of management.

In terms of the staff and the management, we don't have a diversity target per se. I think we recognise that we're starting from a relatively low base in terms of female representation in senior ranks. I think about 9% of our senior management are women and I think the expectation is that can grow significantly.

Approximately 20% of store management are women, and I think as the opportunity continues to develop, you'll find more and more opportunities to promote women through our organisation, right through to the board. Jim, is there anything in addition...

Jim: no, no, figures in the stores is 60% male 40% female, and if you look at our customers, it is probably the same.

Stephen Mayne: I just noticed reading the annual report, I didn't detect a single female in there - in your senior ranks, your auditor obviously on your board, I am pleased to hear that you're going to be moving at the board level. Nine percent of executive ranks is on low end in Australia.

So I think it is fair to say that as we stand today, JB HiFi is one of Australia's worst performed companies on this issue, yet equally, it is obviously one of the best performed companies in terms of its financial performance.

So, I don't think it should overshadow the magnificent financial performance, but I do think in the current environment, that if you don't have this fixed by next year's AGM, there is every chance you will get a feral feminist, someone such as Catherine Deveney running for your board as hostile candidate, potential consumer boycotts - those types of issues.

So I do think that before it becomes a big issue for JB HiFi - an iconic, high profile brand, ought to move swiftly, and I'd like to think that more than a single director within 12 months, like just today, there is nothing in the annual report, there was nothing in your presentations. It just seems to be an issue you've been very slow to get to.

So I just hope that we'll see a step change from today, therefore the issue won't need to be raised at all at next year's AGM, let alone potentially, someone running for your board on a platform, to drag you kicking and screaming into the 21st century on this issue.

Chairman: Stephen, there is no question that it is firmly on the agenda, as to whether we can please all the people all the time, I doubt that will be the case, but the good news is that there are good strong, high quality candidates ready to be promoted to senior management, store management and the board also, so I think that presents a good opportunity for us.

I think the facts we have had today, have clearly been an opportunity to perform for the business, but there is no question that can fall into a bit of a habit of if it 'aint broke - don't fix it, and a very strong performance of the business, and the performance of the current board in terms of supporting management, we probably haven't taken as much opportunities as we would have.

I think it is a challenge for us, and I think it is a great opportunity.