Voluntary code for board diversity

A group of diversity advocates are seeking to improve female representation on company boards. How? And, more importantly, why?

Voluntary code for board diversity

The Voluntary Code of Practice for Board Recruitment, was launched in Auckland late November, with the objective of increasing female representation on boards.

The Minister for Women’s Affairs, Jo Goodhew, was present at the launch and welcomed the initiative. “I applaud the Code as a further commitment by the private sector towards increasing the number of women in governance,” she said.

“Having more women in leadership roles in companies provides a wider range of views in key operational and strategic decisions. It also means these companies have stronger connections with their customers, shareholders and investors,” she added.

The code aims to facilitate the appointment of qualified women to board and senior executive positions. Recruitment companies who sign up commit to:

  • embedding the provisions of the Code in their practice;
  • reflecting their commitment to diversity, including gender diversity, in their promotional material and on their websites;
  • contributing to emerging best practice by sharing their experience and expertise with others.

The provisions include working with chairs and nominations committees to assist in the development and implementation of board diversity policies, helping to foster or maintain inclusive board cultures, ensuring that at least 25% of candidates on long lists for board positions are women, and encouraging boards to shortlist women candidates.

The code was developed by the 25 Percent Group – an association of diversity advocates. It draws on recent, international research into the role of recruitment firms in fostering gender diversity and it ‘crystallises’ emerging best practice. “We met with senior partners from a selection of leading executive recruitment firms to explore recruitment issues from their perspective and get their feedback on the Code,” the group states on their website.

“It does not make economic or commercial sense for us to continue to overlook the talents and experience of our total workforce when establishing boards or replacing board members…Greater diversity contributes to improved long term performance of individual companies and the economy in general,” Andrew Barclay, convenor – 25 Percent Group, said in a press release.

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