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Leading Business Women Put Equality Debate Back on Table

Leading Business Women Put Equality Debate
Back on Table at Gender Diversity Week

14 September, 2012
Some of Australasia's most prominent women leaders in business will address the future of women "in the boardroom" at a gender diversity summit, as part of Gender Diversity Week being launched by Women On Boards New Zealand (WOBNZ) on October 31st.

The Gender Diversity Summit, being held at Villa Maria Estate, 118 Montgomerie Road, Mangere addresses the core question: Women as equals in the boardroom, how do we get there? Female business heavy-weights from New Zealand and around the world will speak at the summit on what's happening with gender diversity at an executive level internationally and domestically. See information on the speakers at the end of this media release.

CEO of WOBNZ Lesley Whyte says the aim of the one-day event is to bring together business women, particularly the future directors and "c-suite" set, to have a say in what gender diversity in relation to leadership looks like for them going forward.

"This summit represents a very important opportunity for women business leaders of today and the future to have a say in what is needed for women to be treated as equals in the boardroom and beyond," Whyte says. "We have come some way although NZ is being left behind by the Diversity Tsunami that is happening overseas. Following the Risk Management conference investment managers are already saying that they will not invest in companies that do not have diversity policies."

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The Human Rights Commission, New Zealand Census of Women's Participation 2010 outlines that "successive New Zealand governments since the 1980s have committed to gender balance or 50% on government-appointed boards. New Zealand boasts an impressive 41.5% of women on government-appointed statutory bodies. However, over the years the timetable for gender balance has been regularly revised but not met."

Statistics in governance of women's participation revealed 6.82% - New Zealand Alternative Market (NZAX), 9.32% - New Zealand Stock Market (NZSX), 9.57% - New Zealand Debt Market (NZDX), 11.84% - Agribusiness, 24% - National Sports Boards and 44.14% - District Health Boards.

Attendees of the summit will also have the opportunity to form a working group that will provide WOBNZ with clear guidance on its priorities for next two years.

Gender Diversity Week will be launched at a fundraising evening for Women On Boards hosted by KPMG on Wednesday October 31st.

For more information and to purchase tickets go to
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Speakers include Dr Sharon Lord (key note), the first female professor of educational psychology at the University of Tennessee, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for equal opportunity and safety policy, during the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Dr Lord was the highest-ranking woman in the Pentagon with the rank of a three-star general, whose responsibilities included monitoring safety around space shuttles and boosters until they were in orbit.
Other speakers are Joanna Perry, whose current board appointments include Deputy Chair Genesis Energy, director of Kiwi Income Property Limited, PSIS, AsureQuality Limited, Rowing New Zealand and Sport and Recreation New Zealand, and Trustee of the Melanesian Mission Trust Board and Sport New Zealand.
Perry will share the stage with Rose Anne MacLeod, Assistant Vice Chancellor Finance, Strategy and IT at Massey University, Director of New Zealand School of Music, and Director of Massey Ventures Ltd; along with Cath Robinson, Ministry of Women's Affairs; Kelly Garmonsway, Institute of Directors Research and Policy advisor; and Robyn Dey, Head of Regulation at NZX, who is responsible for the oversight of Listed Issuers and NZX Participants, and plays a role in NZX regulatory policy.
Bringing an Australian perspective is Claire Braund, executive director of Women on Boards Australia, which she co-founded in 2006. Claire is is an experienced director in the small business and not-for-profit sectors and a highly respected commentator and speaker on gender diversity and related business issues. Claire received a Churchill Fellowship in 2010 to look at the impact of boardroom quotas in Norway and the progress of the public policy debate in the UK and France.
The CEO of Stretton Publishing Company, which publishes NZ's leading women's business magazine Her, Annah Stretton will also join the summit for a panel discussion at the end of the day along with Theresa Gattung, a leading New Zealand business personality and author of the best-selling autobiography Bird on a Wire. Named in Fortune magazine's list of the 50 most powerful women in international business several times since 2002, Gattung was also included in Forbes' list of the world's 50 most powerful women across any sphere in 2006.
Bringing a male perspective to the summit will be Phil Borkin, an Economist from Goldman Sachs, to address gender diversity and the economy; Hon Steve Maharey, who will focus on what the tertiary education sector in New Zealand is doing to effect change; as well as Stephen Rich from the Crown Office Monitoring Unit, and Financial Market Authority CEO Sean Hughes.
James Lockhart (Massey University), who has extensive governance experience in both New Zealand and abroad, will join the panel discussion. Lockhart has taught strategy and governance on the MBA, and strategy and governance on the DBA, and is one of WOBNZ's establishment directors. He will be joined on the panel by Maurice Ellett, Managing Director of Signium Executive Search International, who is widely endorsed as one of New Zealand's leading executive search consultants, with over 40 years continuous experience in the search-based recruitment of Chief Executives, executive management and Non-Executive Directors of public and private corporations.
The Assistant Vice Chancellor of Research and Enterprise at Massey University, Professor Brigid Heywood will be Master of Ceremonies for the Gender Diversity Summit and lead the day.

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