Progress on gender gap, long way to go for ethnic diversity: Champions of Change

A group of top New Zealand businesses nearly met their target last year of women making up 40 per cent of their boards.
Only one more female director across the 39 organisations in Champions of Change was needed to close the gap, according to a report released on Wednesday.

However, 342 more women in management roles would be required to hit the 40 per cent target at that level, the groups third annual progress report showed.

Champions of Change was launched in 2015 by a group of New Zealand chief executives and chairs, which now numbered 55.

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While there was still work to be done to meet the groups aims in terms of achieving a better gender balance, the organisation was also focused on increasing the low levels of Mori and ethnic diversity.

The report was based on the data of 39 organisations and their 115,000 employees across the country.

This years Diversity Report results are promising, says Champions of Change co-chair Justine Smyth.

It showed they were doing better at appointing and promoting women into most management positions than the NZX50 average, and organisations in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Commitment from the top was required for change to happen, said Justine Smyth, Spark chair and co-chair of Champions for Change.

Boards, CEOs, leadership teams, and leaders more broadly set the tone in an organisation and must be unapologetic about their commitment to diversity and creating inclusive cultures if we are going to be able to bring about change, Smyth said in a statement.

This years Diversity Report results are promising and prove that the focused, collective approach we are adopting as Champions is working, but there is still much work to be done.

It was the second report to capture ethnic diversity data, and the results showed that was an area was a persistent challenge in the groups organisations, particularly the lack of Mori and Pacific Peoples, both in positions of power and throughout the workforce.

The New Zealander/European category made up 90 per cent of board positions across the organisations, just over 80 per cent of key management personnel and of executives/general managers, and just under 80 per cent of senior managers.

One problem was the number of employees not choosing to state their ethnicity, although there had been an increase in responses in 2020 from 2019.

It is important to note however, that the lack of data is not an excuse for progress not being made, Champions of Change said.

Data is simply an important tool in helping define where each of the organisations sit and where they need to get to. It is therefore critical employees feel comfortable sharing this information and understand its purpose.


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