Minister applauds champions of change

  • Hekia Parata
Women's Affairs

The Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hekia Parata, is encouraging more businesses to follow the lead of the NZX who are proposing new rules that will require all publicly listed companies to declare how many women they have in senior roles.

Along with Prime Minister, John Key, Ms Parata was one of the guest speakers this morning’s ‘Enhancing New Zealand’s Leadership - women, productivity and our economy,’ breakfast in Auckland, which was hosted by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Trans Tasman Business Circle.

Also speaking at the event was Goldman Sachs Chairman Stephen Fitzgerald and NZX Ltd Chairman Andrew Harmos.

Mr Harmos told the audience the NZX will consult on new rules that will require all publicly listed companies to declare how many women they have in senior roles and as directors. Disclosure requirements will not necessarily be limited to gender diversity.

The change is to be part of NZX's biannual rules review process, and could take force from June 2012.

Genesis Energy has already jumped on board and will tomorrow disclose information on gender at its Annual Results Announcement.

“New Zealand businesses need to challenge themselves to lift the quality of their corporate governance,” says Ms Parata.

“I am delighted to see that the NZX is encouraging diversity on boards.  I expect that this will also see a focus on pipeline issues around women coming through the workforce, management and leadership.’’

The NZX’s proposal comes on the back of last week’s announcement by the New Zealand Institute of Directors, who has established a new mentoring scheme which aims to help women develop connections with top business leaders and gain the skills that will allow them to achieve board positions.

"I meet many capable women around New Zealand who through this process will become visible to Chairs looking to raise the profitability of their companies - a correlation that international research confirms," says Ms Parata.

The Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand has also launched a business plan “Retention and Renewal of Women in Engineering” which aims to improve the number of women in engineering.

“I applaud these organisations for taking action,’’ says Ms Parata.

“This is something Government can play its part in but businesses must take the lead. We need to work together to find ways to increase women’s participation so we don’t miss out on the economic benefits greater diversity and participation brings.’’

A report from Investment Bank, Goldman Sachs, says New Zealand could boost its GDP by a further 10 per cent by increasing women’s participation in the economy.

It recommended a number of ways the gender gap could be reduced including; investigating the career choice of girls, identifying emerging industries and working with employers to encourage more women into trades. The report also takes into consideration the rebuild of Christchurch.

The report confirmed there are many reasons for the gender gap and not just one answer, but a number of them.

“The recommendations in the report are in-line with many initiatives our Government is already leading,'' says Ms Parata

"But we are not complacent.  We know there is always more that can be done as we look to build a brighter future for all New Zealanders."