Last updated 05:00 21/05/2012
The chair of the Global Women organisation, former prime minister Jenny Shipley, is urging the NZX to follow its Australian counterpart and make reporting on gender diversity mandatory.
The New Zealand market operator is currently seeking submissions on its proposal for a similar system to Australia's, where publicly listed companies must report on the number of women at the top of their organisations. Submissions close this month.
"We said last year that we would accept nothing less from the NZX than transparent public reporting on diversity. We say today they need to do it now," Shipley said.
Her comments coincided with an address in Auckland from former Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive Ralph Norris. Norris is a member of an Australian group, Male Champions of Change, which aims to promote women in leadership.
Global Women says there is clear evidence in Australia that diversity reporting has helped boost the number of women in both management and governance roles.
In the past year a third of all new board appointments to ASX200 companies were women, compared with just 5 per cent in 2009, it said.
The percentage of women directors in the ASX 100 now stood at 17.3 per cent, nearly double the 9.3 per cent for the top 100 companies in New Zealand.
A recent Grant Thornton survey showed New Zealand women in senior management positions had slipped from 31 per cent in 2004 to 28 per cent in 2012, the organisation said. Only 5 per cent of chief executive roles were held by women, compared with 30 per cent in Australia.
It was another example of New Zealand falling behind Australia, Shipley said. With so many dual-listed companies, the NZX should be seen to be consistent with the ASX at the very least.
There were strong economic reasons for greater diversity.
Global Women was "desperately keen" to see New Zealand's economy step up, and there was compelling evidence that companies with gender balance on their boards fared better than average.
"We don't support quotas but we do expect change," Shipley said.
"We're pretty clear and we don't want a diluted version of this."
There were plenty of qualified women available to take on senior roles, with many more going through the multiple training programmes on offer to get them up to speed.
"The quicker we get on with this, the better we're going to thrive as a country." Fairfax NZ
- The Press