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Women on boards up, but true equality still 35 years away

Women on boards up, but true equality still 35 years away
Women now represent nearly 15 percent of the top 100 companies by market capitalisation listed on the New Zealand stock exchange, according to the latest New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation.

Women now represent nearly 15 percent of the top 100 companies by market capitalisation listed on the New Zealand stock exchange, according to the latest New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation, but it's merely the beginning of a long journey.

Equal Employment Opportunities commissioner Dr Judy McGregor said it was the first time that number had passed 10 percent, but was partly due to the influence of companies with dual listing on the Australian stock exchange.

“The effect across the Tasman of gender diversity reporting has had a positive follow on effect in New Zealand and we can expect a bit more of an increase once the NZX’s diversity rule comes into play at the end of the year. However, at the current rate of progress it will be another 35 years before boardroom gender equality is achieved."

This comprises 90 directorships held by 69 women in 55 companies. Fourteen women have multiple directorships, up from 8 in 2010. Seven women, including three female directors of fund companies hold three directorships each. Seven other women have two directorships. At least 12 overseas directors are among the women on the boards of the top 100.

“A total of 45 companies in the top 100 are still without female representation which is simply poor business and unacceptable in 2012. These include two top 10 companies, TrustPower and Sky Network Television, companies which have no excuses.”

The 55 companies in the top 100 with female-held directorships is an increase of 12 companies from 2010.

“What is really great to see is that nine top 100 companies now have three female directors on their boards, compared with two companies only in 2010. Governance experts have long regarded 30 percent as the level in which the women’s perspective can make a real difference,” McGregor said.

“It is pleasing to see slow, incremental gains for women in corporate governance but it is now clear that New Zealand is a follower rather than a leader. We’re the 15th country to introduce gender diversity reporting by listed companies and we’re middle of the pack internationally now European countries have adopted government-mandated quotas.”

The female representation on the 40 companies listed on the NZDX (NZX Debt Market) has also increased by more than 5 percent over two years to 15.19 percent, while the NZX Alternative Market has slipped slightly to 6.31 percent.

The New Zealand Census of Women’s Participation report has been published every two years since 2004 by the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.