26 Nov 2012

Push to get women on NZRU board

10:46 am on 26 November 2012

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) has come under fire from the Human Rights Commission which says it's time the sport had women in key decision-making roles.

The Human Rights Commission has launched a campaign to try to have a woman included on rugby's national governing body, saying the sport is lagging behind most others.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor says 30% of sports directors in New Zealand are women but the NZRU has never had a woman on its board.

"We can't have an iconic New Zealand sport in which there are thousands of women who play, who watch or are actively involved who don't have a seat at the table."

MP Louisa Wall, a former Black Fern, added her voice to the call, saying an old boys' network operates in the sport, which thousands of women play and many more support including by buying sponsors' products.

NZRU defends its gender policy

The New Zealand Rugby Union is defending its position on women in senior management saying it just doesn't receive the applications.

The New Zealand Rugby Union has no women on its board but points out Dr Farah Palmer is on the NZRU Maori Board.

Provincial unions put forward candidates and of the 194 provincial rugby board members only four are women.

NZRU chairman Mike Eagle told the Human Rights Commission that since 2007 they have sought applications for five independent directors and received 180 applications.

Twenty four of those were from women. They have run an internal leadership programme for women and now have a gender diversity clause in their constitution.

Mr Eagle says they hope these sorts of things will encourage more women with senior directorship experience to apply to help run the national game.

Canterbury Rugby Union chief executive Hamish Riach says there are no women on its board because none have been nominated, but with no barriers or restrictions to nomination, there is no reason to single out one group to fast-track.