At the current rate of women directors being appointed to NZX - listed company boards it will take around 15 years before 50 percent equity is achieved said Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue.
Dr Blue’s comments relate to the 2015 gender diversity statistics released by the New Zealand Stock Exchange which show that the number of female directors has increased by only five percent since 2013 from 12.4 percent to 17 percent in 2015.
“The big loser in a lack of diversity on our company boards is innovation,” said Dr Blue.
“International research shows that inclusive workplaces and inclusive leaders are linked to greater creativity and innovation.”
Dr Blue said that if companies are interested in innovation they need to have proactive diversity and inclusion programmes up and running in their businesses, at all levels.
The NZX only began collecting gender diversity statistics in 2013 after following the lead of the Australian Stock Exchange.
“Since then, the Commission has called for strengthening the ruling,” said Dr Blue. “We want it to be mandatory for all NZX Main Board listed companies to establish and disclose their gender/ diversity policies including measurable objectives and implementation in their annual reports.”
Currently, while NZX Main Board listed companies.are required to provide a breakdown of the gender composition of their Directors and Officers, only those with a formal gender/diversity policy are required to give an evaluation of their performance with respect to that policy.
“A consistent theme that has emerged in our own and others research is that to bring women through to senior management level requires clear, committed leadership by the CEO and positive affirmative policies such as mentoring and leadership programmes. It does not happen by osmosis.”
“As former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Liz Broderick said, ‘If women are not intentionally included they are unintentionally excluded’.”
“In the Human Rights Commission’s Tracking Equality at Work tool we recommended that NZX strengthens gender reporting by requiring that all listed companies have a gender diversity policy, and that they report on implementation.”