Women could boost economy by $881m - report

  • 05/12/2017
Promoting women could be hugely beneficial for the economy.
Promoting women could be hugely beneficial for the economy. Photo credit: Getty

Promoting more women into leadership roles could boost the economy by almost $900 million, a new report says.

While women make up 47 percent of New Zealand's workforce, they hold just 29 percent of the country's management roles, the Westpac-commissioned report based on a survey of 500 business leaders found.

Fixing this imbalance so women held 50 percent of top roles could grow the economy by $881m, Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean said on Tuesday.

"The research shows having more women in decision-making roles has clear benefits - for workers, for companies and for the economy as a whole," he said.

A balance of male and female managers was invaluable because it boosted diversity of thought, experience and skills within an organisation, he said.

It also created more female role models and increased the availability of flexible work arrangements, in turn driving greater workforce participation, the report found.

However, despite these benefits and businesses promoting more females into management over the past two years, almost half thought there was a lack of female talent in the workforce.

Nine per cent believed they would never achieve gender parity.

"That flies in the face of statistics that, for example, show women are now earning tertiary qualifications at a higher rate than men," Mr McLean said.

"[It] suggests an element of unconscious and even conscious bias in decisions around hiring and promotion."

Report findings:

* Women make up 47 percent of New Zealand's workforce, but fill just 29 percent of management roles.

* Each 1 percent increase in female managers increases an organisation's return on assets by 0.07 percent, equating to an extra $150,000 per year for a business valued at $10m.

* One in four businesses do not expect to achieve gender parity in leadership within five years, while 9 percent believe they will never get there.

* 73 percent of women and 64 per cent of men say it's important for men to be involved in gender diversity initiatives.

* 49 percent of businesses say a lack of female talent is the primary barrier to gender parity in management.

* 40 percent of businesses have a gender policy in place and 26 per cent measure its performance or progress.

* Childcare, as identified by 27 percent of respondents, was seen as the main priority in helping achieve gender parity.