Diversity is such an important topic. Very few dispute the data that shows that organisations that are more diverse not only make more money, but are more innovative, attract talent and retain more of their staff.
Change begins at the top
So, what can organisations and leaders do to drive change? As a leader, building a more diverse organisation cannot be a project you do on the side or that you hand off to others. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) needs to be part of an organisation’s DNA.
Leaders who have been successful in driving this change often have D&I as a personal mission. They believe it is a business imperative because their companies needed it to stay competitive, and they believe it is a moral imperative because of their personal experiences and values. For example, I speak to a lot of male CEOs who now have teenage daughters and they want to ensure that their daughters have the same career chance in life as their sons.
The state of play in Aotearoa
Currently, women in New Zealand are significantly under represented at senior leadership levels. New Zealand’s publicly-listed companies have made no headway getting more women on their boards and continue to lag internationally when it comes to gender diversity.
- Only 17 per cent of directors were female over the past five years
- Only 7 female board chairs of top 100 companies by market capitalisation
- The number of female Chief Executive Officers has not moved beyond three
Developing women leaders
To help move the dial on gender diversity, Global Women has developed ‘state of the art’ leadership programmes to support women to step up to the next level. Our forward-thinking partner organisations have been very supportive of our approach as they can see the need to establish a leadership pipeline in order to ensure a gender equal leadership succession.
Global Women leadership programmes:
- Support talent retention and development—This has been shown through the Breakthrough Leaders experience, where women’s involvement in the programme has seen them move up to leadership positions and stay within the organisation.
- Help participants develop confidence and significant networks—This allows them to bring their authentic leadership qualities to their organisations and the wider New Zealand society. More work still needs to be done to continue to advance the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace—we need to break down the barriers to diversity that continue to exist in many organisations.