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New workplace gender report is NZ’s largest

Champions for Change has published year one results of a new annual gender and ethnicity survey of more than 80,000 New Zealand employees.

It is the largest gender survey across management categories to date, representing approximately three percent of the New Zealand working population.

Figures released today reveal that women are under-represented in senior management roles, highlighting areas where organisations can concentrate efforts to grow their female talent pipelines.

According to Michele Embling, Chair of PwC and Champions for Change Co-Chair, the purpose of the report is to set a new benchmark in gender and ethnicity reporting in New Zealand, from which these organisations can measure progress.

Research shows that diversity improves profitability, innovation, risk assessment and staff engagement.

“What is significant in this report, besides its enormous scope, is that each company reported voluntarily. That shows their real commitment to achieving greater diversity in their leadership teams,” said Michele Embling.

“In the same way that we must first measure emissions to know how we can reduce our carbon footprint, we must be able to measure gender and ethnicity to be able to hold ourselves accountable for change.”

The survey was undertaken by 29 organisations in the Champions for Change group, including some of New Zealand’s largest companies and public sector employers.

The full Champions group includes 44 organisations. Not all were able to report in the first year due to the complexity of assessment.

The Champions group has a goal of 100% participation in 2019 and beyond.

“Measurement has proven time and time again to be the first step in a process of transformation,” says David McLean, CEO of Westpac NZ and Co-Chair of Champions for Change.

“Our results show that there is clearly more work to be done. While Champion organisations are outperforming other groups here and internationally, this should not be the focus.

Female representation by work category for Champions for Change group
BoardKMPOther execs/GMsSenior managementOther managersNon-managersWorkplace
NZ Champions for Change35.4%33.0%30.5%39.9%45.1%51%49.1%
International comparisons1
NZ State Sector 45.3%~~~~~~
FTSE 10027.7%19.3%26.1%~~~~

The Measuring Progress report reveals that at Board level, Champion groups reported 35.4% women – a greater percentage than the NZX50 with 26.5%; the Australian WGEA with 24.9%; and, the British FTSE100 with 27.7%.

At Key Management Personnel level – CEO, COOs and similar roles – the Champions group, with 33.0% women, had a greater percentage of female leaders than the Australian WGEA, which reported 29.7% women.

Women filled 30.5% of General Management or equivalent roles, and 39.9% of senior management and 45.1% of other managers.

In the non-manager category, men and women are almost evenly split, with women at 51% and men at 49%.

As a group, Champions are committed to driving a 40:40:20 balance at all levels of employment i.e. at each level of seniority, 40% of both women and men, with the remaining 20% being of either gender, allowing for a natural flow of people into and out of the organisation. For example, this could mean six men and four women in management - or five of each.

“The results of this survey show clearly where women drop out of the leadership pipeline,” says McLean.

“This group has committed to action on diversity by speaking out on gender equality, focusing on flexible work and nurturing a diverse talent pipeline. We look forward to watching these data points change in the coming years as a result of this focused approach.”

In 2018, 26 Champion organisations reported ethnicity data, representing more than 60,000 employees. However, of this total, one in six employees did not state their ethnicity and data sets were highly variable in quality.

“While this is a good start, there is work to do in building employee understanding of ethnicity reporting, and the options for self-identifying more than one ethnic category,” says Miranda Burdon, CEO of Global Women, which convenes and facilitates Champions for Change. “The focus for 2019 is to increase this response rate to achieve a more robust data set.”

New Zealand is unique internationally in basing the concept of ethnicity solely on the basis of cultural affiliation and self-identification, rather than any concept of race, ancestry, nationality or citizenship - and the biological, historical and legal concepts bound up in these. In New Zealand, ethnicity is self-identified and you can belong to more than one ethnic group.

Each of the 54 CEOs and Chairs that are members of Champions for Change is committed to encouraging a diverse workforce at every level of seniority.

Each organisation used the Champions for Change Diversity Reporting Framework, a global standard of reporting that was created in partnership with Global Women specifically for this purpose.

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