Just nine NZX-listed companies are part of a group of 44 private and public sector bodies which will collect data on the gender and ethnicity of their workforce.

The group came together in 2015 and formed Champions for Change and has now finalised a framework for collecting the information which they hope will boost the diversity of New Zealand's leadership.

Each entity will collect data on the gender and ethnic breakdown of their entire workforce from board level down to basic employees and report back to form an annual report - the first of which will be released mid way through next year.

But the group does not include much of the sector where gender diversity is lowest -publicly listed companies.

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A recent report by AUT found just 22 per cent of directors for the top 100 NZX-listed companies were women.

That compares to the public sector where 43 per cent of board directors are women.

When asked why so few NZX-listed companies were part of the group a spokeswoman said its members had voluntarily come together.

"This group is keen to move our nation forward and are not willing to wait."

It had not released a wide invitation for companies to undertake the research and reporting but would welcome others who wished to join it, she said.

NZX listed companies have had to report a gender breakdown for their board directors and top office holders since 2013.

From October this year they will have to have a diversity policy or explain why not in their annual reports.

NZX-listed companies which will report as part of the Champions for Change include Fletcher Building, Genesis Energy, Spark, Fonterra, Air New Zealand, Auckland Airport, Chorus, Contact Energy and Sky City Entertainment Group.

Dame Jenny Shipley, co-chair of the Champions for Change, said developing clear targets and metrics to measure diversity and inclusion was critical to breaking entrenched patterns that inhibit organisations achieving their full potential.

"As Champions for Change, these leaders are stepping up to take the lead in holding themselves accountable to an agreed set of consistent reporting standards and in doing so will be benchmarking their efforts and progress amongst their peer group as they strive towards achieving truly diverse and inclusive leadership in their organisations," she said.

"By voluntarily coming together to share their workforce diversity data, they intend to learn from each other as they develop a much richer understanding of how New Zealand is making the best use of our people and in doing so achieve much greater social and economic performance and prosperity for our companies and our country."

The research will ask employees which gender they identify with and will give four options - female, male, gender diverse and not stated.

Staff will also be able to choose up to three options when it comes to ethnicity.

The data will be collected between April 1 and March 31 and will be collated for a report due out in mid 2018.