Dr Susan Macken –
The Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture series addresses a matter which is vital for strong business and a strong economy – good corporate governance.
When we consider what constitutes good governance, yes, of course business acumen and experience immediately come to mind.
Those skills enable a Director to counsel, challenge, provide advice based on experience and sometimes corral differing viewpoints.
Whilst business skills and experience are necessary attributes for directors or leaders, they alone are not sufficient. I firmly believe that the most essential skills are grounded in personal characteristics.
Sir Anand’s Values
I would like to turn to Sir Anand’s values and his definition of Leadership, which encompasses Integrity, Honesty, Accountability and Transparency. That’s why he lends his name to this Lecture series – to ensure that we keep highlighting how crucial those values are in business and for good corporate governance.
The speakers at this year’s Lecture (Jan Dawson, Wendy Palmer and Ranjna Patel) certainly meet those criteria. They are distinguished women who shared their insights and views on this year’s theme of ‘Women in Governance.’
Tonight, we can celebrate the success that we have achieved.
On behalf of Indian Newslink I thank Jan Dawson (Westpac Chairperson), Wendy Palmer (Media Works Radio Chief Executive) and Ranjna Patel (East Tamaki Health Care Director) for your time, energy and contribution. They have joined the ranks of an esteemed few who have spoken at the Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture. These speakers tackled issues and themes of national importance.
Priority of Diversity
The role of women in governance is one of those.
In 2008, I was the only woman on the BNZ board. Seven years later, I am proud to be one of four women on the BNZ Board. Diversity is a big priority and we have given it huge attention.
We led corporate New Zealand in our approach to diversity and we have been recognised by United Nations for promoting diversity in the workplace.
However, when I turn to the broader governance environment in New Zealand, particularly in the commercial sector, the picture is not quite so rosy.
Let us look at the NZX50 Index; it is important to note that many banks are not included in these figures as we are registered with parent companies abroad.
Two of the largest 16 companies have no women directors. None of these 16 companies have a woman Chief Executive. Nine of the top 46 NZX companies or 19.6% have no woman directors. In all, about 20% of directors of the NZX50 Index are women.
Earlier in the year, Grant Thornton shared some sobering news in their Women in Business report; that New Zealand is faring worse, not better, for gender representation in leadership.
We are now placed 28th out of 35 in countries surveyed for gender representation in leadership. We were third in 2004. Today, only 19% of senior business roles are occupied by women.
This is below the global average of 22%. And for a country which was the first to grant women suffrage that is very disappointing.
Some say that there are not enough suitably qualified women. I dispute this and I know there are women who are able, willing and wanting to be found.
I know there are search firms, industry organisations and colleagues who are capable of finding these women, and giving them the leadership and governance roles they are willing and ready to undertake. What is required now, is for all those involved in governance to show real leadership in their determination to find these women.
This is a rallying cry to not lose momentum in the areas where we are making good progress, and to boost efforts where we are lagging, to realise the benefits that women bring to governance and leadership.
I have two final notes of thanks. First to Sir Anand, your contribution to New Zealand is immense and has inspired this lecture series, which takes great pride of place in the community, as it should.
Secondly, to Indian Newslink I’m sure our guests and speakers will join me in applauding your commitment to this Lecture series and in maintaining an ongoing engagement about the topic of women in governance.
Dr Susan Macken is Director on the BNZ Board and Member of the Treasury. The above is an edited version of her speech as Master of Ceremonies at the Fifth Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture on Monday, July 27, 2015 at Pullman Hotel Auckland. Related reports appear in this Section.
- Sir Anand with Jan Dawson at the Lecture
- Lana West of BNZ with Sarah Leo-Anderson of ATEED
(Pictures by Narendra Bedekar & Sai Bedekar)