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25 Percent club pushing to double women numbers on boards, plus some

Diversity in business has never been a hotter topic, and today a bunch of business honchos launch a force that wants to pump up female representation on boards to 25 percent by 2015.

Diversity in business has never been a hotter topic, and today a bunch of business honchos launch a force that wants to pump up female representation on boards to 25 percent by 2015.

The proportion of women on New Zealand boards and in senior management of listed companies is less than 10 percent at the moment, and the 25 Percent Group is set on changing that.

The group has 12 founding members, including NZX chairman Andrew Harmos, Vector chairman Michael Stiassny, Mighty River Power and Auckland Airport chairwoman Joan Withers, Progressive Enterprises managing director Dave Chambers, ASB chief executive Barbara Chapman, Fletcher Building chief executive Jonathan Ling, MediaWorks chief Sussan Turner, and Telecom and Transpower chairman Mark Verbiest.

It's part of a burgeoning swell worldwide to boost the numbers of women in management that includes the 30 Percent Club in Britain and the Male Champions of Change in Australia.

But talk is cheap, so what exactly is it doing to reach its goal?

Withers told Breakfast the 25 Percent Group would work on "practical" things like disseminating research, as well as setting targets and supporting initiatives like the the NZX move toward greater disclosure and transparency on diversity within listed companies .

"This is putting a headliner target up in lights," she said.

The 25 Percent Group itself is heavily male-dominated and she said the men on the team would champion diversity among their peers. 

Overseas studies have linked gender diversity on boards to improved corporate performance, including 36 percent better stock price growth and 46 percent better return on equity. And the more women, the better the results.