Diversity linked to business success

  • 14/03/2016
Diversity linked to business success

Fifty of the country's most influential CEOs and board chairs are taking part in a summit in Auckland today, tackling the lack of diversity in New Zealand's business leadership.

The Global Women Champions for Change summit comes after a survey found New Zealand has some of the lowest proportions of women in leadership roles in the Asia-Pacific region.

As well as gender, the summit will also address the need for more diverse leadership in terms of age and ethnicity.

"The real issue for New Zealand is we're small and we need to broaden the talent pool," Champions for Change co-chair Dame Jenny Shipley told the Paul Henry programme.

"We need probably 300 additional directors from what we've got now, and we need at least 300 CEOs from what we've got now, but we can't have just the same," she said. "We're doing business with Asia, we're doing business with new economies, so we need the mind set and the skill set and the ideas in order to make those companies succeed."

Companies with more gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform their national industry medians and ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform, according to recent research from McKinsey & Company.

"Companies that are really tuned into this, they understand diversity, they value it, they invest in it. They get the best people, and they hold them," said Dame Jenny. "People who don't get that need the best people to drive their companies, but if they don't have great strategies, either at the board table or at the executive table, they're missing the point."

According to Dame Jenny, when it comes to diversity New Zealand businesses need more accountability, measurement and commitment to talent -- "If you do it well, then people stay," she told the Paul Henry programme.

"I can think of one or two companies right now who are in trouble, who if they had more diverse boards and understood customers abroad, they might do things differently."