Number of Kiwi women leaders decreasing – survey

  • 08/03/2016
Number of Kiwi women leaders decreasing – survey

New Zealand has some of the lowest proportions of women in leadership roles in the Asia-Pacific region, and it's getting worse, a survey has found.

The global Grant Thornton survey of the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) shows 42 percent of Kiwi businesses have no women in leadership roles - up from 37 percent last year.

The survey examined 5520 businesses in 36 economies.

The research has been released on International Women's Day, which this year looks at the issue of achieving pay parity for women.

Metiria Turei spoke with Mark Sainsbury today who thinks the gender pay gap is increasing.

"I think we are in decline… the gender pay gap is increasing, we have fewer women in management and leadership positions, we have fewer women in Parliament. So I think the situation for women in New Zealand is getting worse. More and more women are in precarious and part-time employment that tends to be low-paid, so it's much more difficult for them to be fully participant in New Zealand society, and their children as well, which is one of the reasons we have such high child poverty rates. There've been some good advances in education, but we are slipping back, and that's not okay."

Overall, almost one-in-three APAC businesses had no women in leadership, the survey found.

Grant Thornton spokeswoman Stacey Davies said in 2004, New Zealand rated third on the league table of countries surveyed, but now formed part of the global report's "bottom 10".

"This demonstrates our dwindling numbers of women in senior management and the percentage of businesses with no women in these roles at all," she said.

"The continuing downward trend for no female representation in senior management roles for New Zealand businesses is concerning."

While the global average of women in leadership had remained static for the past five years at about 33 percent, New Zealand was moving in the wrong direction, she said.

Ms Turei said this is reflected in the numbers of women in leadership positions.

 "We had a woman Prime Minister, a woman Governor-General, a woman Attorney-General, a woman Speaker of the House - we haven't had a woman in the Speakers team under the National Government. One of the things I think we can do is we should bring the Women's Affairs portfolio back into Cabinet. It's the one step we can take to make sure that women's issues are right at the forefront of at least Government decision-making, which I think would improve the priority of women's issues - our safety, our wellbeing."

"Progress in developed economies is simply not happening fast enough. Companies across developed nations have talked the talk on diversity in leadership for long enough."

Meanwhile, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of OECD countries ranked New Zealand fourth behind Iceland, Norway and Sweden for female economic empowerment.

However, the survey noted the gender pay gap remained "unacceptably wide" across the OECD, with women still paid about $83 for every $100 a male counterpart earned.

NZN / Newshub.