Opinion: Leadership needs diversity

The Secretary of the Treasury Gabriel Makhlouf

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It’s a remarkably outdated view which goes directly against efforts to enhance New Zealand’s potential by promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.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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Totally agree. In fact I respect those parents that are both successful, and good parents. Picking kids up and dropping them off demonstrates all kinds of good traits.

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Also agree. Whilst the current All Blacks are exemplary role models on a number of fronts, we do need to be reminded that an All Black career will be maxed out after 5-7 years (10 if you're doing well), you now need mid-career sabbaticals to recover from the physical and mental strain, and you end your career in your mid-30s with a frail, arthritic body and in many cases struggle to find other meaningful work. Not to mention the playing squad of 30 is based on a Super Rugby pool of 150-200 which is supported by a semi-pro pool of 4-500.

In contrast, we probably want our workplaces to be arranged in a away that facilitates long-term commitment and performance over a 30-40 year career, rather than the earn-as-much-money-as-possible-until-the-body-gives-up model. This includes accommodation for life changes such as raising children, and managing stress and workload accordingly.

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Interesting that Gabs takes this line. Here's Adams and Ferreira in the Journal of Financial Economics on gender and Boards of Directors:

"Our results highlight the importance of trying to address the endogeneity of gender diversity in performance regressions. Although a positive relation between gender diversity in the boardroom and firm performance is often cited in the popular press, it is not robust to any of our methods of addressing the endogeneity of gender diversity. The true relation between gender diversity and firm performance appears to be more complex. We find that diversity has a positive impact on performance in firms that otherwise have weak governance, as measured by their abilities to resist takeovers. In firms with strong governance, however, enforcing gender quotas in the boardroom could ultimately decrease shareholder value. One possible explanation is that greater gender diversity could lead to overmonitoring in those firms."

I'd link to it, but links tend to be treated as spam. Search on Adams Ferreira Journal of Financial Economics, 2009. "Women in the boardroom and their impact on governance and performance."

They also find that the average effect of gender diversity on firm performance is negative.

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Kids most certainly should not be getting picked up from school if at all possible. Bruce Cotterill was quite right to point this out. Teaching children independence and personal confidence is far better for them than coddling them by driving them to and from school every day as well as significantly improving the road congestion and obesity at the same time.

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Agreed. The international research literature definitely does *not* show "companies that have a balanced representation of women and men on their boards perform better."

Perhaps he's thinking of a couple of consulting reports, which do make this claim. But they're not evidence of anything.

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Well, NZ and its economy is by and large run by MAWMs - Middle Aged White Males and a few token "others".

Interesting to see this dominance exists even even in multi-national corporation companies that are Asian owned.

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Who cares what this foreign bureaucrat thinks. He is a guest in this country and he really doesn't have any qualifications or right to be telling New Zealand business people who they should be employing.

One can't help but wonder what causes ambitious Britons such as the author of this piece (they're nearly always from the UK: Reynolds, Lesley Longstone, the CEOs and directors, current and former, of several large listed NZ companies etc) to wind up on these remote and sparsely populated shores so far away from any action when they could be back home in the UK or somewhere that's actually going places moving and shaking with the great and the good instead of writing articles sniffily suggesting that bosses on this cold rock at the bottom of the world should employ fewer white males and hire instead more females and non-whites.

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May I suggest that all these pretend leaders who keep banging on and lecturing us on "leadership" be rounded up and sent to Syria?
Thank you

may

i suggest that all people who tour around lecturing on

'

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Gabriel Makhlouf, glad to read your opinion! I too disagree with that a person performing the role of a parent can't be a leadership material. However, leadership skill is inborn and one can also balance the both at a time. Giving such statement is not acceptable at all. Person lack of leadership quality can also acquire it by the help of some special training. I appreciate and agree with your opinion Gabriel Makhlouf. Thanks.

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