Diversity is about Directors not Directorships
Counting for Gender Change
on NZX Boards
To ensure that the gender gap on New Zealand’s boards continues to receive the attention of directors of both sexes, officials and other regulatory bodies concerned with gender equity in the boardroom, it was important that this research tradition of regular census of women's participation be maintained. What is counted is valued or as Marilyn Waring pointed out so eloquently so long ago, women's contribution will Count for Nothing.
New Zealand Census of Women on Boards
What gets counted gets done.
He Tatai Tangata Ka Taea.
The 2017 New Zealand Census of Women on Boards is the initiative of two researchers, Professor Judy McGregor, Head of School of Social Sciences & Public Policy at AUT, and Dr Rosanne Hawarden, businesswoman, director and currently Chair of Governance New Zealand Inc.
For over a decade both researchers have monitored the low global percentages of women on boards and have worked to encourage greater gender diversity at board level in New Zealand.
This New Zealand Women on Boards research project is a census of women directors on the boards of public companies listed on the main board of the New Zealand Stock Exchange as at the end of January, 2017. It consists of 2 reports, each examining a different segment of the raw data to give a richer understanding of how board diversity is changing in New Zealand. The first report examines the Top 100 NZX companies by market capitalisation. The second report analyses the 122 companies required by the NZX to report on the gender diversity of their directors and senior officers. Comparisons are made with historical census data. This research project was presented at the annual Women on Boards conference in Auckland in May 2017. This website, Counting for Change was created by Dr Hawarden to publish the NZ Census findings and to make available a platform for other WOB researchers to promote their projects.
The researchers know that what is measured gets changed. The first report follows the methodology of earlier NZ Censuses of Women's Participation and is the gold standard for international comparisons. The second report is a director network analysis and uses the new methodology of crowd science. A group of WOB volunteers collected and validated the raw data and contributed their learnings. A new network visualisation tool, Polinode displays the gendered director network and can be searched interactively online.
Both reports can be downloaded from this website.
Is diversity on boards about directors or directorships?
Who is sitting at the boardroom table and how many directorships do they have?
Findings and Recommendations
An average increase of 1% per year over the last 10 years
NZX Gender Diversity Reporting Regime has had a minimal impact on the slow annual increase
In the Top 100 NZX companies, 22% of directorships are held by women (137 female directorships out of 618 directorships)
6 of the Top NZX 100 companies have 50% female board directors
20 of the Top 100 companies have 32.68% female board directors
the bottom 20 companies had only 17.7% female board directors
many NZX companies had no women directors
only one Maori woman and no Pacific women were identified as directors on NZX boards
there has been a large increase in the number of NZX women directors who hold multiple directorships (25% of female directorships are held by 'Golden Skirts', while 'Golden Suits' have declined in number)
Increase in Golden Skirts first seen in Norway when compulsory board gender quotas of 40% women introduced, now seen in New Zealand for the first time.
New Zealand is lagging behind other Western countries
Confirms that larger companies have bigger boards with more women and the focus should be switched to smaller companies and the private sector who have lower percentages of women directors
Changes in the gender ratio of directors with multiple board seats is a normal response of a director network to pressure to change its configuration. Both 'hard' or legislated quotas with severe sanctions and 'soft' reporting regimes with minimal sanctions will have this effect. The Catch-22 of directing where a board appointment is necessary to get the required experience is more pronounced and diversity is decreased as experienced women directors are favoured over women with less experience. Not known if this is a temporary phenomenon.
Ongoing censuses to monitor trends and to ameliorate unintended consequences
Ongoing initiatives needed to maintain current levels of diversity or to increase them.
Increased focus on improving processes of board selection and recruitment
mentoring/coaching by Chairs and senior directors
increased appointment of alternate directors
board ready women to be given opportunities to observe boards
The 2017 New Zealand Census of Women on Boards consists of 2 reports, based on the same raw data provided by the NZX but each slices it differently. Report 1 considers the gender composition of the Top 100 companies by market capitalisation while Report 2 is a network analysis of the 122 companies required to report on on their board composition. While many of the companies appear in both reports, both contain excluded companies that did not meet the selection criteria of the other report. These differing views give a richer and deeper insight into the reasons for the lack of women on the boards of New Zealand's public companies.
Note: The NZX gender reporting regime introduced in 2013, has been strengthened under new rules released in 2017. Currently 40% of NZX main board companies are excluded from the gender diversity reporting regime and will be in the future. This dilutes the impact of this regime.
Report 1 Top 100 NZX Company Analysis
The first NZX Women on Boards report shows that the proportion of New Zealand women on the boards of the top 100 companies listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange has finally climbed above 20%. The New Zealand Census of Women on Boards shows that 22.17% of board positions were female in 2017 according to company websites and 2016 annual reports.
The overall results show that the number of women in corporate governance is an issue that will not go away in terms of the number of women on boards of directors, the time it is taking to achieve gender equality, and in relation to the overall commitment to board gender diversity by New Zealand’s top publicly listed companies
Report 2 Diversity Directors Network Analysis
The 2nd Women on Boards network analysis confirms the low percentage of 16.8% of directorships or board seats held by women directors in the 122 companies who have been required since 2013 to include a tally of directors and senior officers’ gender diversity in their annual reports and to report these numbers to the New Zealand Stock Exchange under their diversity regulations. Using ‘crowd research’ to collect and validate this data, the percentage of individual women directors is much lower at 14.8%. The ‘Golden Skirts’ or women with more than one directorship have gained significantly at the expense of male and aspiring women directors. This trend first occurred in Norway when legislated gender quotas were introduced. This research shows that this effect can occur where ‘soft’ social pressure is exerted to change the gender composition of boards of directors. New on-line network visualisation tools allow deeper exploration of this director network.
A sex and power report card
NZX Gender Gap
From 2013, the New Zealand Stock Exchange imposed a diversity reporting regime on particpating companies. Under the New Zealand Stock Exchange diversity regulations issuers listed on the NZX Main Board (excluding overseas companies) are required to include in their Annual Report quantitative data on the gender breakdown of the Directors and Officers at the financial year end, including comparative figures for the prior financial year end. In 2016. The graph above is derived from the official NZX statistics. The NZX’s diversity reporting regime has led to a small improvement from 12.4% in 2014 to 16.8% in 2015, where it is now static. This NZX data refers to directorships and not the numbers of individual men and women.
The NZX Director Network
Development of new online networking software called Polinode, www.polinode.com has meant that the New Zealand director network data can be converted into an image that can be mined for information that only a graphic display reveals. In this image the magenta circles are male directors and the green circles female directors. The larger the circle the more board appointments that individual director currently has in the specific network, in this case the 122 companies that reported on their board composition to the NZX in 2016. The small grey nodes are the companies and other views can be created to highlight these. The most highly connected directors can be identified by name. It can be seen that women directors tend to be in the most connected portion of the network. On the rim are the smaller components, mostly of men that are not connected into the network. The image below shows the directors with multiple seats ranked from the few with 5 to the majority with only 1. After 18th May you will be able to explore this 2016 network of NZ directors online.
A crowd sourcing or networking and a crowd research methodology was used for the first time in Women on Boards research. Crowd science also involves multiple teams examining the same data, replicating results and confirming findings while applying innovative methodologies to develop and expand initial results. These new approaches are time efficient, low cost and very productive as they very quickly harnesses the talents of a diverse community where research budgets are minimal. Crowd science is characterised by open participation in a project by a wide base of potential contributors, with intermediate inputs such as data or problem solving methods supplied by the researchers. Critical challenges in crowd science projects are attracting contributors and coordinating the contributions of a large number of participants. The motivation and educational benefits of crowd science are recognised as enhancing an individual’s engagement with science and progressing science generally by building in cumulative steps on the work of earlier and other researchers.
Census of Women's Participation and other research
2008 Census of Women's Participation
Download the 2008 Census of Women's Participation here.
This research is independent research. The conclusions drawn are those of the researchers and do not necessarily represent those of the supporting organisations. The support of Governance New Zealand Inc in facilitating this research is acknowledged, in particular the contribution of Linda Noble, CEO and Joy Tracey, Chair of the Women on Boards Division of Governance NZ Inc. Research funding by AUT supported the research led by Professor Judy McGregor.
Professor Judy McGregor
Professor Judy McGregor, CNZM, is Head of the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Auckland University of Technology, and Associate Dean Postgraduate. Judy has researched gender equality issues such as equal pay and women in governance and management in New Zealand. She has written extensively domestically and internationally about women’s participation and representation in public and private life. When she was EEO Commissioner at the NZHRC she published a census of women’s participation in New Zealand that covered public sector agencies, stock exchange listed companies, women in sport, the media, in law, accountancy, the defence forces, police and the trade union movement. Her latest co-authored book is “Human Rights in New Zealand: Emerging Faultlines” and she is co-editing an international collection on “Human Dignity”.
Dr Rosanne Hawarden
Dr Rosanne Hawarden has degrees in nursing and midwifery, human resources, and information technology. She is currently Chair of Governance New Zealand Inc board and a Fellow. She holds a Doctorate in Business and Administration and is an internationally recognised scholar in diversity on boards of directors, particularly director networks. Other board appointments include the Medical Radiation Technologists board, and the Medical Sciences Secretariat Ltd. She is managing director of a company representing a large international software house specialising in manufacturing and accounting (ERP) systems. Her underwater heritage interests and maritime archaeology research has focused on medieval shipping networks of the Indo-Pacific.
Stevie Sikuea (née Davis-Tana) graduated from AUT in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts double majoring in Maori Development and Social Sciences. In January she completed her Masters and will be graduating in July as a member of AUT’s inaugural Master of Human Rights class. Stevie currently works at AUT as a research assistant, and at Action Education as a youth development administrator. She is passionate about culture, education, mental health, and community and youth development. As a member of the South Auckland Poets Collective Stevie is also passionate about spoken word poetry, and in providing platforms for young people to express themselves and dialogue about important issues.
With sincere thanks to the following contributors and the 44 volunteers who came forward. Data contributions came from Alison Wood, Annis O’Brien, Carron Blom, Fi Dalgety, Ginnie Denny, Hilary Sumpter, Irene Durham, Ihsana Ageel, Jennifer George, Josie Fitzgerald, Joy Tracey, Karen Remetis, Megan Sargent, Phillipa Smith, Rebekah Swan, Sandy Jackson, Sophie Davies, and Sue Neale.