The number of women on company boards should get a welcome boost following a decision of the New Zealand Shareholders' Association (NZSA) to make it a priority.
‘I have today written to the new chairman of the Shareholders' Association Mr John Hawkins congratulating him on his election and welcoming NZSA's decision to make increasing the participation of women on New Zealand company boards one of the Association's three priorities,' said Minister of Women's Affairs, Hon Pansy Wong.
‘I have also offered him the support of the Ministry of Women's Affairs to identify potential suitable board members.
‘Some company chairs say that they are hampered by a lack of women candidates with the right skills and experience, so I have asked Mr Hawkins to pass on the assurance I have received from a number of New Zealand's leading board recruitment specialists that there is an adequate supply of suitably qualified women for company boards.'
Mrs Wong said the NZSA decision was particularly timely given the Australian Securities Exchange's (ASX) new requirement that listed companies set and report on gender diversity targets from January 2011.
‘This has resulted in a rapid increase in the percentage of women on ASX boards in the first six months of 2010, from 8.3 to 9.2 percent.
‘If we do not lift our act, there is a risk that a new gap will emerge between New Zealand and Australia in an important aspect of corporate governance.'
The Minister said she looked forward to working with the Association to increase the number of women on listed company boards.