More women for listed companies

New programme to improve gender diversity on the boards of listed and major companies.

Under 10% of directorships in New Zealand’s listed companies are held by women.

A new Mentoring for Diversity programme, launched last night in Wellington by the Institute of Directors, intends to change this.

The programme, which will run next year from the first day of January ‘til the last day of December, is designed to help 30 chosen women gain the skills necessary to achieve board positions.

The 30 well-qualified women were chosen from over 130 applicants by a selection panel made up of Institute of Directors president Denham Shale, Ministry of Women’s Affairs chief executive Rowena Phair and Institute of Directors chief executive Ralph Chivers.

Each will have as their mentor a chairman or senior director of a major company.
 
The Institute said the mentors themselves were also expected to benefit from contact with women with significant leadership potential, enabling the mentors to develop a greater understanding of the concerns and aspirations of senior women.
 
In launching the programme, Mr Shale said research has shown diversity should bring a new dynamic to the boardroom with a different range of skill sets and perspectives which should ultimately lead to better governance and better company performance.

“Companies that embrace the principle of diversity and put it into practice invariably derive a comparative business advantage,” he said.
 
According to the Human Rights Commission, women hold only 9.32% of directorships in New Zealand’s listed companies.
 
“It is also gratifying to see senior directors and chairmen devoting time and commitment to addressing the gender imbalance at the top tables,” said Mr Shale. “Change will begin at the top and our mentors have seized the opportunity to “put something back” into the profession,” he said. “The commitment from our mentors is a crucial element in making this programme a success.”

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