8 Dec 2011

Changes to gender balance on boards will take time

8:08 am on 8 December 2011

The organisation spearheading a mentoring programme to increase the number of women on NZX-listed boards, says it will take time to improve gender balance around the board table.

The New Zealand Institute of Directors launched its mentoring scheme on Wednesday.

It involves 30 chairmen and senior directors of major companies working with 30 experienced and qualified women in a year-long programme.

Currently, only 9% of directorships of listed companies in New Zealand are held by women and the scheme is one of a number of initiatives designed to improve gender diversity around the board table.

Institute policy manager William Whittaker says the obvious measure of success of the programme would be in the number of women appointed to NZX listed boards.

However, he says that is over-optimistic since the pool of opportunities for board membership on a listed company is relatively small, which is why the institute is taking a long-term view.

Dr Whittaker says the other measure of the success of the programme will be qualitative and he says the women participants will be surveyed on their experience in the programme at six months and 12 months.

He says the feedback they would like is that the women feel they have enhanced their eligibility for board membership, have improved their profile and "enhanced their personal brand"

Dr Whittaker says the possible listing of State-owned enterprises will also open opportunities for women with aspirations to directorships on top-listed companies.