Jacinda Ardern calls rich-lister Simon Henry's Nadia Lim comments 'insulting to all women'

The Prime Minister has called a rich-lister's controversial comments about businesswoman Nadia Lim "insulting to all women".

Simon Henry, the founder and chief executive of speciality chemicals company DGL, told NBR Lim attempted to use her "sensuality" to raise interest in My Food Bag. Lim co-founded the meal delivery service which had a disappointing opening on the public market last year, but is a well-known Kiwi brand.

"When you've got Nadia Lim, when you've got a little bit of Eurasian fluff in the middle of your prospectus with a blouse unbuttoned showing some cleavage, and that's what it takes to sell your scrip, then you know you're in trouble," the rich-lister - with an estimated net worth of $700m - said.

The remarks have been widely condemned and led KiwiSaver fund KiwiWealth to add Henry's company to a list of businesses it won't invest in

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday added her voice to the chorus of criticism when asked what she, as a female leader, thought of Henry's comments.

"Regardless of what position I am in, for me, it was just seeing them as a human. When I saw those comments, not only does that do a complete disservice to Nadia herself, but I imagine it would have been insulting to all women. The success of Nadia Lim speaks for itself." 

Lim, a celebrity chef, told AM on Thursday she was saddened by Henry's comments and the potential effect it may have on other Asian women in business. 

"I'm a tough cookie. I have had enough years and support to become resilient and confident. My big issue with it is, it saddens me how other people and women and women of colour and ethnic backgrounds might see themselves in those comments and how they would feel hurt," Lim said on Thursday. 

"I had the chance to reflect on these comments when I caught my flight from Christchurch back down home to Queenstown yesterday and my air host was this lovely, awesome Eurasian girl who was quite a bit younger than me and clearly of Asian descent. 

"I smiled at her and she smiled back and then it hit me like I wonder what she thinks when she reads comments like this or hears things like that."

National deputy leader Nicola Willis, who has held senior commercial roles, such as at Fonterra, told Newshub that Lim should be proud of her achievements. 

"The belittling of her on the basis of her looks and clothes is pathetic. What a completely outdated worldview.

"Those sorts of remarks are completely out of step with the attitudes I would expect to see in a modern thriving Kiwi business. I think the remarks say a lot more about the person making them than the person they were targeted at."

Henry is yet to respond to Newshub's numerous requests for comment. His comments are being reported overseas, including in the Australian Financial Review where he is described as making "a boob of himself". ASX-listed DGL is currently seeing a fall in stock price, down 6.18 percent on Friday as of publication.