Company director Sue Sheldon says increasing the number of women and people of different ethnic backgrounds in senior management and on boards could lift companies' bottom-line profits by 10%.
Ms Sheldon, who is chair of Freightways and Chorus and is on the board of Contact Energy, also chairs the governance group of Diverse NZ Inc, an organisation of 40 New Zealand corporates and public entities.
She told the New Zealand Shareholders Association's annual investor conference that Diverse NZ Inc aimed to capture the benefits of diversity which international research showed were available to companies.
"Putting more diverse thinking into the senior management and governance level of companies has the ability to create a value-add of 10-11% ...to the bottom line," Ms Sheldon said.
"So that is the driver. It's not being PC, it's not about 'we should do this because it looks good'."
Diverse NZ called it "the bright thing to do, not the right thing to do", and it was driven from the value-add opportunity, she said.