ASB bank boss Barbara Chapman says she is disappointed New Zealand business appears to have lost some of its early momentum when its comes to diversity in the boardroom and at the executive level.

Chapman, one of the few woman chief executives at a large New Zealand corporate released a blog on linkedin today calling for executive influencers to "step up".

Chapman said despite the business case for leveraging female talent being proven, the goal of meaningful diversity remained as "elusive as ever."

"...when I look around the executive teams and boards of our largest organisations today, I have to say I'm disappointed that New Zealand business appears to have lost some of its early momentum.


"Because, despite all the research and evidence proving that companies with higher percentages of women in their leadership perform better financially, the highest levels of corporate New Zealand continue to be a largely male dominated domain."

A Harvard Business School report recently noted just 7.5 per cent of New Zealand directors were women - less than half the global average of 16 per cent.

Chapman said diversity needed to be framed as a serious strategic issue not a problem to be solved by human relations.

"By elevating diversity to an executive management level, companies are better able to give it the appropriate focus and in turn marshal the necessary resources to break down the barriers holding women back."

Chapman said executive sponsorship was also key as well as having appropriate and achievable targets.

" If a key component of executive and management performance evaluation is improving their diversity metrics, those metrics do improve."

Chapman said the prize for the diversity challenge was a big one for New Zealand businesses.

" In terms of female executive engagement, New Zealand currently lags behind our global competitors and we are failing to optimise the economic benefits that diversity brings.


"Clearly there are solutions that legislation and regulation can also offer but the first step needs to be a personal commitment to address diversity by the men and women with the ability to influence executive appointments and assist with success.

"It's time for us to step up."