A group of high level corporate leaders have banded together in a bid to boost the number of publicly listed companies with women on their boards to 25 per cent by the end of 2015.
The 25 per cent Group launches in Wellington this week with the backing of 12 leaders including former Telecom chairman Wayne Boyd, New Zealand head of Goldman Sachs Andrew Barclay and Joan Withers, the chairwoman of both Auckland Airport and Mighty River Power.
Barclay, spokesman for the group, said it had been modelled on a similar group of corporate leaders in Australia called Male Champions of Change - a male-only group which actively promotes the role of women in senior management and board roles. In New Zealand women are part of the group and make up four of the 12 members.
Barclay said the imperative to do something had stemmed from New Zealand falling behind Australia in building its number of women on boards.
In 2008 about 8.3 per cent of ASX-listed companies had women directors while 8.7 per cent of NZX-listed companies had female directors. Since then it had risen to 14.5 per cent in Australia but just 9.3 per cent in New Zealand.
Barclay said the group was not advocating for a wholesale clearout of boards or for quotas but said change could be made through recruiting new board members. He said the change involved overcoming subconscious bias and using different processes.
The group's formation coincides with consultation by the NZX to include gender diversity as part of company reporting.