Women on Boards

by Penny on November 10, 2012

In October this year I put my name forward to be a member of the Board of NZX listed Company Team Talk.   I did this because all the Board were men and all came from the same backgrounds and had profiles that were similar.  While I knew there was NO way the existing Board and Chairman were going to let me on the board I was asked to address the meeting.

I gave a speech and was received with respect but of course they wanted an Accountant and money man.

The following Post details some of my speech.     What I didn’t say at the meeting is that women do own a large number of shares in companies, including this company and that women do have the power to sell shares in companies with only men on their boards.     While this is an extreme position it might at some point be important for women to mobilise and insist that we should be on Board and that there should also be diversity.

This is what I said to the company:

In 1893 New Zealand woman were allowed to vote, since then women have taken their places alongside men in almost every elected positions. There are women in Parliament, as Judges, as Mayors and Councillors, State Owned enterprises have women Board members, there are women on the Boards of not for profit organisations.   Yet in New Zealand in 2012 only 1 in every 20 Board members were women in the NZX listed companies, and at Team Talk there are none.

Since the Global Financial crisis there have been three movement that are important,the first is the communication revolution, smart phone and tablets being news to the person.  The second is Wall Street becomes Main Street, the third is the push for diversity, particularly gender diversity on the Boards of Companies.

The  women on boards is a lively social movement asking for a change in the environment in NZX Boards and encourage them to become more diverse by electing more women, Maori and people a wider ethnic backgrounds.   This campaign has some interesting supporters and any search on Google of Women on NZX Board will bring up speeches by such people as Phil O’Reilly,  Chief Executive, Business New Zealand; Tim Bennett, New CEO NZX;  Dame Jenny Shipley, Rt Hon John Key and many others.

What this movement wants is  gender balance on Boards is very good for those Boards.   Most commentators  acknowledging the research that is showing that Boards with woman on them perform better and are more innovative, creative and forward looking. The diversity makes Board discussions broader and the female input can provide insights that are not recognised by men alone.


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