Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says provincial rugby unions throughout New Zealand are doing a much better job than the national organisation of inspiring and unifying all people that support the sport.
“NZ Rugby today announced their independent panel and we wish them well as it seeks to regain the trust and mana of everyday New Zealanders who signed our open letter for cultural change.
“Diversity on their national board should be top of the agenda, like it already is in provincial rugby unions and international sporting bodies such as FIFA who have recently appointed Kiwi woman, Sarai Bareman, as their Chief Women’s Football Officer.
“The Auckland Rugby Union has two women directors, two of Wairarapa Bush’s board members, one of which is deputy chair, are women, Buller Rugby Union has two women on its board and King Country and Wanganui have women chief executives.
“When it comes to ethnic diversity – with Maori and Asian Kiwi chairs and directors: our provincial unions are leading the way. However, across the country, Pasifika New Zealanders hold few governance roles despite their huge impact from junior to senior levels of the sport.
“It’s 2016 and the NZ Rugby board still fails to look like the New Zealand we live in today – it’s important that they lead by example.
“As an initial step, NZ Rugby should immediately appoint a Women’s Rugby position on its board in the same way that there is a Maori Rugby position.”
“There is clear evidence that boards influence the culture and direction of business. Having a woman’s perspective on the board, especially when NZ Rugby are currently addressing conduct and attitudes toward women within their organization, is paramount.”
Dr Blue said the Commission looks forward to working with provincial unions, in particular the Canterbury Rugby Union, in coming weeks.
“Our focus now is on working with the provincial unions at a grassroots level where there is already a solid foundation of diversity and an environment of optimism when it comes to changing the status quo,” Dr Blue says.