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Gender quotas should be a last resort to increase the number of women directors on New Zealand company boards, the Institute of Directors says.
Chief executive William Whittaker said the institute would not discount gender quotas but considered them a last resort. The institute promoted diversity in all forms but would like to see voluntary practices undertaken.
''There are better ways to increase women's representation on boards than introducing quotas.''
The number of women on boards was expected to grow at a faster rate due to greater awareness of the issue and the impact of initiatives already in place to increase representation of women on boards, he said.
''There is greater understanding that improving board diversity isn't just about equality but about how board diversity actually helps improve board performance - particularly bottom-line financial performance.''
The institute, supported by the Global Network of Director Institutes, which represented more than 100,000 directors worldwide, did not support legislating for quota systems, Dr Whittaker said.
Quota regimes had tended to force boards to appoint women who were not necessarily the best candidates. Evidence from overseas had not proved putting quantitative requirements in place resulted in better organisational performance.
The Global Network of Director Institutes preferred other measures, including:Board nomination or governance committees could set a good example through their commitment to diversity.
Companies should develop their own diversity policies and report to shareholders on progress.
Companies should consider their executive talent management programmes and integrate principles and practice.
Boards should widen their approach when making appointments to non-executive positions.
Board evaluation should be used to assist in the development of more diverse boards.