United Nations Honours BNZ
United Nations Honours BNZ
BNZ Wins Inaugural UN Women’s Empowerment Principles “Benchmarking for Change” Award
Auckland, 7 March 2013 – Proof that what gets measured gets done. At a ceremony in New York this week, BNZ CEO Andrew Thorburn is among five business leaders from around the world to be honoured by the United Nations for their success in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Mr Thorburn is the first New Zealand business leader to count among the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles honourees, recognised for the work BNZ has undertaken to drive greater representation of women in the upper levels of bank leadership and management. The Benchmarking for Change Award acknowledges the work done to embed accountability to achieve gender equality.
Mr Thorburn says that reaching a point where BNZ has greater representation of women at middle and senior leadership and management has been a major focus for BNZ. Half the bank’s executive team is now women.
“As the bank for New Zealand, we are committed to the empowerment of our women employees, our women customers which by extension empowers women in the larger community. It simply makes good business sense to dedicate resource to make that happen.
“It’s exciting and humbling to have BNZ counted among world leading organisations striving to improve culture and practice to ensure fairness and diversity. My team and I are committed to continuing in practice and spirit, the momentum towards empowering our community, our customers and our employees,” he says.
Mr Thorburn says that, as the first country to give women the vote and the first to have a woman prime minister and leader of the opposition, woman chief justice and woman speaker of the house –all at the same time - it is not surprising that a New Zealand organisation is again leading the charge for the empowerment of women.
BNZ has embedded gender balance targets into its executive team’s performance plans, a move made in 2012. In addition to promoting gender equality for women employees, BNZ includes initiatives to empower its women customers and women in the community. BNZ is also fully transparent on its targets as part of its drive to improve performance, and as a clear signal that the organisation is maturing in its acceptance of the need to change.
“What gets measured gets done,” explains Thorburn.
“Setting transparent targets for BNZ and embedding these into the executive team’s own performance and reporting to our board and shareholder (National Australia Bank) have proven to be key strategies to break barriers for women.
“For BNZ to stay sharp and competitive it must strive to adapt, to attract and retain a diverse range of talented people, whatever their gender, ethnicity or background. We are doing just that, helping to ensure that the bank looks, sounds and acts like the community it is serving,” says Thorburn.
Three years ago, Thorburn brought his executive team together and agreed a strategy to ensure equal opportunity for all women employees. This concerted effort has attempted to unravel complex issues, some related to the wider perception of the finance industry, and others required a good hard look at bank practices and culture.
The approach taken is multi layered and impacts activities ranging from recruitment to employee development as well as joining together with others in the sector to tackle industry issues.
Thorburn says achieving gender balance is a tremendous opportunity for BNZ.
“It will not only
drive market growth, but more importantly it will create a
culture where the best choose to be and stay.”