2 May 2011

Australia boosts women director numbers faster than NZ

1:42 pm on 2 May 2011

The Minister of Women's Affairs is looking across the Tasman for ways to significantly boost the number of women on private sector boards.

In New Zealand, women hold 9.3% of board directorships at the country's top 100 listed companies - a figure that's remained relatively static for the last two and a half years.

The rates are slightly higher in Australia, but it is improving much faster, with women taking 31% of new board appointments this year.

Hekia Parata has held two days of meetings with Australian business leaders, including Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive Ralph Norris and Goldman Sachs co-chief executive Stephen Fitzgerald.

She says New Zealand cannot afford to lag behind, and the turnaround has to come from the business community itself.

She says the Australian stock exchange has included in corporate guidelines a requirement for companies to set targets and report on them. Senior Australian businessmen have taken leadership and talked of the value women directors added to the brand of their businesses.

Ms Parata plans to speak with the Commerce Minister and business community about ways to improve women's participation in corporate governance.