Opinion: Leadership needs diversity

The Secretary of the Treasury reponds to Bruce Cotterill's "Lesson's in leadership from the All Blacks".

OPINION

I read with interest Bruce Cotterill’s recent opinion piece "Lessons in Leadership from the All Blacks."

The article contained some useful insights, but I was disappointed to see the following comment: “If Richie McCaw were a sales director, he wouldn’t be doing long lunches or picking the kids up from school.”. 

I suspect that I am not alone in disagreeing with the inference that men and women who fulfill their duties as a parent are somehow not “leadership material.”

It’s a remarkably outdated view which goes directly against efforts to enhance New Zealand’s potential by promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The business case for diversity in the workplace is clear. In the case of gender diversity, international research shows companies that have a balanced representation of women and men on their boards perform better. 

Providing flexible arrangements for both men and women to balance their family commitments with work is an important part of enabling more women to take on senior leadership positions, and something the Treasury has made a conscious effort to support. 

This is an important issue for everyone in a leadership role, whether in the public or private sectors. It underlines the importance of initiatives such as Champions for Change (launched on Tuesday to promote greater diversity and inclusion and which many New Zealand leaders have signed-up to). 

If the attitude expressed in Bruce Cotterill’s piece is indeed widely held, then initiatives such as this are all the more important in pushing for change that supports more diverse and flexible work environments in order to enhance New Zealand’s potential.

Gabriel Makhlouf is Secretary of the Treasury

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