There are less women in senior management roles with New Zealand businesses than at any other time since 2004, an international report has found.
Only 18 percent of Kiwi businesses had at least one woman in a senior leadership role, Grant Thornton International's annual Women in Business survey revealed on Thursday.
This was an all-time low, down from 20 percent in 2017 and 31 percent in 2004 when the survey began.
Grant Thornton NZ partner Stacey Davies says the proportion of senior female managers dropped significantly in 2015 from 31 percent to 19 percent.
"[At the time] we hoped this was a blip and we would see positive change in the coming years," she said.
"We now have a four year average of 19 percent, which suggests this is our new norm, and it's really not good enough."
The result has seen New Zealand plummet from being one of the top 10 countries for gender equality to now being ranked 33 out of 35 countries surveyed.
Elsewhere, 75 percent of businesses surveyed around the world had at least one woman in senior management, up from 66 percent last year.
However, the proportion of their management team that was female had slipped from 25 percent in 2017 to 24 percent this year.
In New Zealand, the dire drop in women leaders did not correspond to the fact that gender equality policies were abundant and widespread.
Eighty percent of surveyed businesses said they had adopted equal pay for men and women performing the same roles and 78 percent had implemented non-discrimination policies for recruitment.
But Ms Davies said the lack of progress suggested businesses were "concentrating on box-ticking, rather than actual, tangible progress".
She said addressing the issue started at the top and made good business sense.
"There is compelling evidence of the link between gender diversity in leadership and commercial success," she said.