12 Aug 2016

Women, Māori, Asians still under-represented on boards

10:51 am on 12 August 2016

Company boards still have a long way to go to fully reflect New Zealand's gender and cultural diversity, a new report shows.

However, the pay gap between male and female company directors is closing.

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Māori account for just 1.5 percent of board chairs and 2 percent of directors, with Asian representation even lower. Photo: 123rf

An Ernst and Young report compiled for the Institute of Directors showed board director fees rose 3 percent in the year ended in March, to a median rate of nearly $43,000.

That was on top of a 4 percent rise the year earlier.

Institute chief executive Simon Arcus said the difference between the sexes narrowed over the year to 10 percent, compared with a gap of 21 percent the previous year.

The median rate paid to women non-executive directors rose nearly $3000 to $39,800, while the rate paid to men fell by $1000 to $44,000.

"There are good economic arguments for getting the right skill mix, and gender, onto boards," Mr Arcus said.

"Research shows even one woman on a board can enhance its performance."

EY director Una Diver said Asian and Māori people were also under-represented on boards, with Māori accounting for just 1.5 percent of board chairs and 2 percent of directors, with Asian representation even lower.

"Different perspectives that different skill groups bring to a board, actually make it function better as a whole," Ms Diver said.

"[They] will then deliver better return for the shareholder."

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