The Government has picked up a development programme to foster the next generation of directors.

The Institute of Directors' Future Directors programme will be extended to state sector boards, Minister for Women Louise Upston announced today.

Future Directors was founded by Sir Stephen Tindall, Michael Stiassny and Des Hunt in 2012. It aims to give young people the opportunity to observe and participate on a company board for a year, while giving the company exposure to their talent and the benefits a young mind can bring.

So far 20 Future Directors have been placed on boards in 17 private sector companies and a further four are progressing.


Chief executive of the Institute of Directors Simon Arcus said extending the programme to state sector would improve diversity on boards.

"This is a significant and innovative step for the public sector and continues the achievements in diversity to date by giving people with potential a great opportunity," Arcus said.

"The IoD has long held the view that diversity of thought and perspective in the boardroom improves business performance and innovation."

Last week the IoD called for boards to lift their game as board diversity was critical to maintaining a competitive and vibrant economy. It released a guide to support the promotion of diversity at board tables, and help board chairs and key decision makers take steps to address New Zealand's poor boardroom diversity statistics.

The government's goal is to have 45 per cent women directors on public sector boards. Women currently make up 43.4 per cent of public sector boards.

This compares to the private sector where IoD research showed 77 per cent of the top 122 NZX companies have less than 30 per cent of women directors on their boards, with 39 having no women at all.