Female business leaders should be chosen on merit rather than gender equality quotas, two Tauranga business leaders say.
Their comments follow the release last week of the Randstad Workmonitor Report which shows New Zealand trails many countries in terms of the proportion of women in leadership positions.
In a survey of 13,000 employees in 32 countries, only 37 per cent of Kiwis surveyed said women occupy at least half of the leadership positions in their organisation.
New Zealand's response puts it behind India (63 per cent), Italy (58 per cent), China (48 per cent) and the UK (43 per cent).
However, many of the high-scoring countries achieve their gender equality by making female quotas a legal requirement, Liz Muller, general manager of Agro-Science and Marketing at Ballance Agri-Nutrients, said.
Ms Muller said she would not support the introduction of similar legislation in New Zealand.
"As a female who has chosen to have a career which has predominantly been in manufacturing roles within businesses which have had a male dominated workforce, I personally believe very strongly in development and career progression based on merit.
"I do not want to be employed into an organisation or a role because I am a female - I want to be regarded to be a competent leader who delivers results ... not a female."
Ms Muller said Ballance sought to employ the best candidate for the job regardless of gender, and actively tried to remove barriers that stopped women from being successful in their careers.
Currently Ballance has 14 female leaders amongst its top 96 leaders (15 per cent).
Port of Tauranga corporate services manager Sara Lunam said she is the only woman in the port's senior leadership team of five people.
The port has a diversity policy but does not have any targets or quota's for gender, Ms Lunam said.
"We do have diversity in employees irrespective of quotas and believe we have no barriers to entry for women for any role, management or otherwise."
The port and transport industries have traditionally been a male domain, Ms Lunam said.
"However, as with many traditional industries, barriers continue to reduce or disappear."
Women were employed in key operational roles at the port's container terminal and operations centre, she said.
"Personally I do not favour quotas as I strongly believe in the best person for a role irrespective of gender or ethnicity.
"In my career I have been lucky enough to have had the support and encouragement from many people I have worked with, male and female. I do however understand that not all employers or organisations share that view and in those instances quotas may open minds and support change."