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NZX enforces gender diversity disclosure rule for listed companies

Thursday 5th July 2012

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NZX, the stock exchange regulator, will include a requirement for listed companies to disclose their gender diversity as part of the annual reports starting on Dec. 31, subject to Financial Markets Authority approval.

Members will be required to disclose the gender composition of their boards and senior management teams, provide information on their diversity policies and evaluate their performance in respect of the policy. The ruling follows a two-month consultation process.

In response to feedback, companies will create their own diversity policies and don't have to provide a quantitative breakdown of the gender composition of boards of subsidiaries.

"It's important that we give listed companies the flexibility to make their own decisions about whether a formal diversity policy is a priority for them at this stage," Tim Bennett, chief executive, said in a statement. "Over time we'd like to see more listed companies taking the opportunity to report on diversity as a contributor to investing decisions made by shareholders."

Women currently hold about 9.3 percent of private sector directorships in New Zealand. The majority of NZX 100 companies have no female directors, while women account for 21 percent of management positions reporting directly to chief executives.

The NZX will work with the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the 25 percent Group, launched in June to implement the policy. The 25 Percent Group aims to see 15 percent female participation on boards by 2015.

“Together, initiatives such as these will lead to more opportunities for women on boards and to improved corporate performance," Kim Ngarimu, acting chief executive at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, said in a statement. "They will also unleash future opportunities for women in a wider range of senior leadership roles.”

The 25 percent group and the ministry have started a website to provide access to research and practical advice on how to improve diversity in the boardroom.

In May, the Financial Services Institute of Australasia and Bank of New Zealand also launched the Women in Financial Services Forum after research showed that females across New Zealand and Australia perceive their career advancement as a low priority in the organisations they work for.

The NZX will publish final guidance later this year and plans to monitor disclosures made by companies with the view to build up approaches to diversity over time.

Shares in the NZX are currently trading at $1.34 and have gained 36 percent this year.

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