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Deputy Mayor launches initiative to boost diversity

Deputy Mayor launches initiative to boost diversity on council boards

Auckland Council is introducing a programme to foster greater gender and ethnic diversity at board level, Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse announced today.

The year-long Board Observer Programme is designed to give aspiring directors boardroom knowledge and allow them to establish relationships and networks with current directors, in conjunction with Auckland’s council-controlled organisations (CCOs).

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, Chair of the CCO Governance and Monitoring Committee, says “A lack of gender and ethnic diversity on boards is an issue in New Zealand and overseas.

“This programme is a step towards building that capacity for Auckland businesses and organisations, using the considerable experience within our CCOs to foster a new generation of skilled board members from groups traditionally not well-represented.”

Mayor Len Brown says “The previous council was often frustrated by the lack of diversity in experienced directors when we were seeking to appoint to our CCOs. This programme was born from the desire to expand that diversity.”

Thirty-two per cent of Auckland Council’s current CCO directors are women. This compares with 14.75 per cent in New Zealand’s top 100 companies and 41 per cent of state sector boards.*

Interview panel member for the programme Councillor Penny Webster says the calibre of the applicants was impressive.

“This is Auckland Council’s contribution to building a more diverse pool of experienced directors for Auckland organisations and companies,” says Cr Webster. I am confident these new appointees are a fantastic first step towards greater ethnic and gender diversity in Auckland governance.”
The appointees are:

Alexandra Delany to Watercare Services Limited - a lawyer with commercial experience, strong business acumen and an interest in corporate governance.
Sarah Beaman to Regional Facilities Auckland – a strategic thinker with experience and a broad knowledge in business and sport. Sarah has experience in developing organisations to have a strong governance model that will ensure their future sustainability.
Kylie Clegg to Auckland Transport – an experienced legal and corporate governance background across a range of sectors. Kylie brings previous governance experience during her time on the boards of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation and New Zealand Olympic Committee.
· Sarah Minhinnick to Waterfront Auckland – expertise in banking and finance, combined with a high-level legal background. Sarah has well-developed client relationship and management skills that enable her to communicate across a variety of levels.

The programme is designed to run from February 2014 to February 2015. In conjunction with the CCOs, a decision will be made in late 2014 as to whether the programme will be repeated in 2015.

* The Human Rights Commission 2012 Census of Women’s Participation found that in New Zealand’s top 100 companies by market capitalisation, only 14.75 per cent of directors are women (90 directorships held by 69 women in 55 companies). The HRC notes that at the current rates of progress, equality in New Zealand corporate governance will take another 35 years to achieve.

Central government has a gender diversity target of 45 per cent by 2014. In 2012, 35 per cent of directors of crown companies and 41 per cent of directors of state sector boards were women.


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