​NZ heading in wrong direction as women represent just 19 percent of Kiwi business leaders

“Progress in developed economies is simply not happening fast enough."

New Zealand continues to make slow progress in getting women into senior roles within companies, with just 19 percent of leadership roles held by women in New Zealand.

A global survey by Grant Thornton reveals that almost one in three (31 percent) regional businesses have no women in leadership while in New Zealand, that number is even higher at 42 percent, an increase from 37 percent last year.

In terms of the percentage of senior positions held by women, New Zealand’s results remain unchanged from last year, which showed a significant drop from 31 percent in 2014, and still well below our long run 12-year average of 27 percent.

As such, this keeps the country slumped at 28th place.

“Back in 2004, we could be proud of our third position on the league table of other countries surveyed, but now we’ve formed part of the global report’s “bottom 10” group,” says Stacey Davies, Partner of Privately Held Business, Grant Thornton New Zealand.

“This demonstrates our dwindling numbers of women in senior management and the percentage of businesses with no women in these roles at all.

“The continuing downward trend for no female representation in senior management roles for New Zealand businesses is concerning.”

Davies says the global average has remained relatively static over the last five years at around 33 percent but in New Zealand, the industry is currently sitting at 42 percent this year compared to 26 percent in 2012.

“We're clearly moving in the wrong direction, “ Davies adds. “Progress in developed economies is simply not happening fast enough.

“Companies across developed nations have talked the talk on diversity in leadership for long enough. It’s time to put their promises into practice and deliver results.

“There is no one size fits all solution to the world’s leadership diversity shortfall but, as outlined in our new report, making progress will require the collaboration of companies, governments and women.”

Davies says that societal norms around leadership and the implementation of remuneration parity need to be addressed.

According to findings, Kiwi women are more concerned about the recognition of their ability and earning a higher salary than men, which could reflect the ingrained biases they have faced on their way to the top.

“Men usually take it as read that their efforts will be appropriately rewarded, this is unfortunately not always the case among women,” Davies observes.

As such, Davies believes women need to put themselves forward for new roles and articulate what they want from a senior leadership role, including pay.

“Businesses need to acknowledge that women are less likely than men to initiate negotiations, so they should talk about money and get it out in the open,” Davies adds.

“Firms also need to reassure women that they will be able to make a real difference if they reach the top and, critically, that their efforts will be recognised and appropriately rewarded.”

Going forward, Davies believes companies need to look to redefine leadership in a manner that will attract women to senior roles - that means recognising the need for collaboration and dialogue.

“Businesses need to create environments in which women feel confident that they will be heard and valued, and know they will be supported through transitions and difficult moments,” Davies adds.

“The proper mechanisms to ensure that leadership is compatible with family commitments should also be in place.

“We know that businesses with diverse workforces can outperform their more homogenous peers and are better positioned to adapt to a rapidly changing global business environment.

“If opportunities are likely to change, a wide range of perspectives is critical to navigating new landscapes.”

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