Firms report gender breakdowns
The latest figures on reported gender diversity in the boardrooms of our listed companies show only 8 per cent of directors are women.
The NZX introduced a listing rule last year requiring companies to include gender breakdown of directors and senior management in their annual report. It was the 16th country in the world to introduce such measures.
However, the listing rule is watered down from that introduced in Australia in 2011 as it only makes it mandatory for those listed companies with a gender diversity policy to report but stops short of making it compulsory to have such a policy.
There are a total of 110 New Zealand companies that fall under the listing rule.
Out of the 41 companies that have reported on gender diversity this year for their financial year end, there were 205 male directors and 18 female. The 8 per cent result compares unfavourably with the 2012 Census on Women's Participation, which showed the percentage of women directors of the top listed 100 companies had risen to 14.75 per cent.
The figures on senior management show there were 193 men compared with 57 women - a skew of 77.2 per cent compared with 22.8 per cent.
As there are no previous year figures to compare against yet, it is impossible to tell if the figures indicate any progression or otherwise in gender diversity.
The Human Rights Commission has said the lack of a requirement to have a gender diversity policy and to set measurable objectives if you did have one, which were critical components of the ASX policy, could reduce the effectiveness of the rule here. Market operator, the NZX, passed a diversity policy in December that required age and gender breakdown of its staff to be provided to the board quarterly. It didn't set any targets for work force or board composition.
The NZX has two women directors on its six-member board, four out of 11 senior officers are female and just over half of its 168 staff were female. Across the Tasman, the ASX Corporate Governance Council recently released a KPMG report analysing the first full year of diversity reporting across the ASX.
It found over 90 per cent of companies had introduced diversity policies though that figure, along with women represented at board and senior management level, was lower for smaller companies.
For the S&P/ASX200, women made up 15 per cent of board members, 20 per cent of senior staff and 35 per cent of the workforce. For ASX 201 to ASX 500, the figures were 10 per cent, 34 per cent and 34 per cent. For the ASX 501+ it was 8 per cent, 15 per cent and 25 per cent.
Many larger companies have gone beyond the listing rule requirements, introducing mentoring and networking programmes, more flexible working arrangements, diversity education/awareness programmes, and pay equity reviews and audits.
A number of diversity policies also went beyond gender to include indigenous staff members and mature workers.
The Australian listing rule includes an "if not, why not" requirement.
The main excuse from companies not having a diversity policy was they were too small, thought current practises were sufficient, preferred to hire on merit and skills rather than gender or background, and that their sector only had a limited pool of female candidates to choose from.
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