22 Jan 2017

Lawyer urges transparency on board diversity

6:48 am on 22 January 2017

Companies should be more transparent when it comes to cultural diversity at the highest level, a prominent employment lawyer says.

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Photo: 123rf

Listed companies must provide a breakdown to NZX of the number of male and female directors and officers.

However, they have no such requirement for cultural diversity.

Employment lawyer Mai Chen, who sits on BNZ's board, said the makeup of a company should reflect its customer base.

"If we're getting transparency around gender we should definitely be getting it around ethnicity - it is important," she said.

"If you've got a company that is servicing New Zealanders, it would look very odd if they had almost no Maori, Pacific, or Asian people in positions of leadership."

RNZ this week revealed a list of 45 companies without any female directors in 2016.

The argument that there were not enough suitable female candidates was plainly false, Ms Chen said.

"I know there has been some progress made, but that's more in the public rather than private sector."

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