Government joins Future Directors scheme promoting boardroom diversity

(Getty file)
(Getty file)

The Government is joining an effort to promote more diversity in New Zealand boardrooms.

The Institute of Directors' Future Directors scheme is being extended to include state sector boards.

The Minister for Women Louise Upston says public sector boards and committees will benefit from the initiative, and it will help to develop a larger and more diverse pipeline of talent.

The initiative was launched in 2013 by The Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall, Vector chairman Michael Stiassny and Des Hunt from the Shareholders' Association.

The Institute says the idea is to "give young talented people the opportunity to observe and participate on a company board for a year while giving the company exposure to this talent and the benefits a young mind can bring."

Institute of Directors' Chief Executive Simon Arcus says: "The need for diversity of age in the boardroom reflects the rapid changes in the business landscape."

"The dividend that diversity pays is bringing different perspectives and more robust decision-making, effective risk management and better company performance."

But New Zealand companies appear to be lagging behind.

Research by the Institute found that 77 percent of the top 122 NZX companies had less than 30 percent of women directors on their boards.

Thirty-nine companies had no women on their boards at all.

That contrasts with the state sector, where 43.4 percent of board members are women. The aim is to reach 45 percent.

Last week the Institute called on New Zealand companies to lift their game, saying that board diversity is "critical" to maintaining a competitive and vibrant economy.

It released a guide to help companies improve their performance in this area.

The Future Directors initiative has so far helped 17 private sector companies place 20 people on their boards. Four more companies are hoping to do the same.

Auckland International Airport, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Mighty River Power, The Warehouse and Vector are among the companies taking part in the initiative.

Applicants do need senior management experience but there is no age requirement.


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