Senior management roles still dominated by white men - report

European men are still dominating senior management roles in New Zealand, a new report has found.

The report focusing on 39 organisations currently trying to increase diversity found women make up 37 percent of board members and 36.4 percent of executive officer roles.

Champions for Change is a group of 54 CEOs and chairs from across the private and public sector organisations aiming for more diversity across senior roles. They have a goal of ensuring boards are made up of at least 40 percent women, 40 percent men and 20 percent either gender.

Non-Champions for Change businesses are doing worse though. Boards on NZX-listed companies that aren't part of the project are only 22.8 percent female, and only 23.5 percent of their CEOS are women.

Champions for Change co-chair David McLean, also the CEO of Westpac, said it's possible for organisations to make progress on equity when their leaders focus on it.

"It's great to see us getting so close," he said.

Westpac's board is 37.5 percent women, its key management personnel is 44.4 percent women and its other executives are 36.8 percent women.

Overall women's representation is improving among the organisations taking part in the project.

Year-on-year organisations that participated in the 2018 Champions for Change report saw female board members rise 4.4 percent, as well 1.6 percent more female key management personnel and 1.2 percent more female executives and general managers.

The report also looked into the ethnicity of organisations within the group, using data from 69,000 employees. It found the three most senior roles are overwhelmingly held by people of New Zealand European descent. Only 18 percent of roles are held by non-New Zealand Europeans, on average.

The organisation is hoping to refine its data analysis approach for ethnicity in the next report. It's also launching a pilot gender pay gap measurement.

Twenty Champions for Change companies will voluntarily report on their gender pay gap as part of the study.

Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter told Newshub companies that measure their pay gap and publish them help reduce it.

"It's by taking these steps that we can then start to fix the problem."

She said the current system is inequitable and something needs to change.

"It's just not fair that women - and particularly Māori and pacific women, disabled women and other women of colour - are underpaid for their work. That's just not right."