Speech: Institute of Directors in New Zealand Inc Launch of Mentoring for Diversity 2014Women’s Affairs
E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa. Ka nui te honore ki te mihi ki a koutou.
Thank you Stuart for your warm greetings this evening. I am delighted to be here tonight to celebrate the launch of the Institute of Directors’ third Mentoring for Diversity programme.
I acknowledge Vice President Michael Stiassny, CEO William Whittaker, other members of your Council, and all the mentors and mentees here tonight who have been part of this programme since it was launched in 2011.
I congratulate the Institute and the mentees and their mentors for successfully completing the 2013 and previous years’ programmes.
I also congratulate those women who put their hands up and seized the opportunity to fast-track their governance networks and knowledge through this programme.
I know that your organisation has a close working relationship with my Ministry of Women’s Affairs and I am pleased that the Ministry has been able to assist.
As you will be aware the Ministry has developed a high level of specialist expertise in the area of women in leadership with a particular focus on the pipeline of women in leadership and governance roles.
You will know that greater gender diversity in governance and leadership roles correlates with better board decision making and organisational performance, providing economic and productivity gains.
More women in leadership roles brings diverse views and experiences to the decision making table. It also brings stronger connections with customers, stakeholders and investors.
In September this year celebrations were held across the country to mark the 120th anniversary of all New Zealand women winning the right to vote. While Kate Sheppard is credited with leading the Suffrage movement she had the support of many thousands of men and women working together to achieve the ultimate success of the campaign.
Together we all have this great legacy to follow.
While we led the world for women 120 years ago, and we continue to lead the world in many aspects of women’s equity, there are still too many instances where the true potential of women, in our businesses and communities, goes unnoticed and unrecognised.
During the suffrage celebrations I released a research report: Realising the Opportunity: Addressing New Zealand’s leadership pipeline by attracting and retaining talented women. This report aims to inform discussion, support initiatives already underway, and more importantly encourage new actions so that organisations recruit and retain more talented women in leadership roles.
Our success as a country relies on every New Zealander being able to realise their full potential. We all recognise the value of diversity, and the value of experiences outside the workforce and in communities.
We have an expanding pool of talented women in this country who are highly skilled and qualified. Women make up 51 per cent of the population so we know there’s not a supply problem!
Rather the challenge is for us all to make the most of this valuable resource by ensuring that women have opportunities to contribute to our economy through initiatives such as the Mentoring for Diversity programme.
I applaud you for your commitment to increasing the diversity of boards in New Zealand, for recognising that it is important to develop and encourage the pipeline of both young men and women directors, and to ensure that those directors are appropriately skilled.
You have made it possible for young people who are keen to learn about governance to also be part of your organisation and to be ready to take up leadership roles in the future.
The Prime Minister and I will be hosting our final suffrage celebration tomorrow night focused on young women who are just getting started on their careers.
While they are already highly achieving, I want to inspire them to achieve at the highest level.
I want to ensure that they are encouraged to continue in their careers, and that there are no barriers to their success because they are women or because they take time out for family reasons.
I wish you all great success with your mentoring in 2014 and I look forward to hearing about the successes of those of you who have just completed the 2013 programme.
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.