Organisations face an accelerating pace of change where customer needs are shifting and competition offshore is aggressive.

Diversity of ideas and perspectives ultimately equips an organisation to be more innovative and responsive to its customers and stakeholders.

Yet we still see a lack of diversity in the management of many New Zealand organisations, limiting the ability of these organisations to think differently or take advantage of New Zealand's changing demographic landscape.

This year the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index cites New Zealand women as the most educated in the world but also reported an unprecedented low of 30th overall for our economic participation and opportunity - down from 15th overall - which illustrates a widening gap of wage equality between men and women for similar work.

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Equally concerning, New Zealand's demographic is quickly evolving with nearly a quarter of New Zealand's residents born overseas. The profound impact on the country's diversity makeup represents both challenge and opportunity to spur economic growth and social change.

This lack of diversity in New Zealand's leadership led Global Women to establish the DiverseNZ Inc. initiative aimed at encouraging New Zealand's business community to take on the broader Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) dilemma. At the heart of DiverseNZ Inc. is the belief that there is immense opportunity in diversity as a powerful driver of business value.

Organisations need to understand the importance of diversity's influence on new markets, business models, product and service offerings, company brand, and talent recruitment and development.

DiverseNZ Inc. has been working with 40 leading New Zealand organisations to build their capacity to manage their D&I strategy.

Based on a benchmark of their D&I position, DiverseNZ Inc. created a series of workshops for these organisations to establish their own D&I strategy and share successful tools and approaches to designing a roadmap, monitoring and measurement, inclusive leadership and critical issues.

The initiative also launched an online toolkit developed to gather together the immense amount of literature available on D&I and filter it to provide the strongest examples and resources. Categorised into three sections - Governance, Leadership and People & Culture, the selection of action-oriented resources and tools are accompanied by New Zealand business leaders lending their advice on having real impact and influence in New Zealand businesses.

Galvanising a collective commitment to diversity, the diversity initiative will continue to build organisational awareness and capacity, develop knowledge and learning and, support an ecosystem of organisations that move the dial on diverse leadership.

DiverseNZ Inc will hone in on the critical areas of creating pathways for Maori and Pacific people within organisations, supporting Asian leaders and addressing the talent shortages and pipeline issues that start back at school and impact gender and ethnically diverse people.

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DiverseNZ Inc. believes New Zealand's most successful businesses will be those who cultivate leaders that have an appetite for diversity of thought, crucial to their organisation's business performance. The development of women, Maori, Pacific and Asian leaders for the future positions of influence has become a business imperative for New Zealand.