Promoting women into leadership roles could boost economy by nearly $1 billion - report

A new report has found promoting more women into leadership roles could boost the economy by almost $900 million and the Minister for Women is calling on businesses to heed the message.

While women make up 47 per cent of New Zealand's workforce, they hold just 29 per cent of the country's management roles, the Westpac-commissioned report based on a survey of 500 business leaders found.

Fixing this imbalance so women held 50 per cent of top roles could grow the economy by $881m, Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean said today.

"The research shows having more women in decision-making roles has clear benefits - for workers, for companies and for the economy as a whole," he said.

A balance of male and female managers brought increased diversity of thought, experience and skills to an organisation, he said.

Despite this almost half the Kiwi business leaders surveyed thought there was a lack of female talent in the workforce.

Nine per cent believed they would never achieve gender parity.

But Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter called on business leaders to "ditch" their "unconscious bias" in believing women were not talented enough for the country's top jobs.

"There are talented women who are well prepared for stepping up into management roles, but they need to be promoted, and their skills recognised," she said.

"For the 42 per cent of businesses that have observed no change in women in management roles in the last two years, now is your opportunity to get with the programme."

Report findings:

* Women make up 47 per cent of New Zealand's workforce, but fill just 29 per cent of management roles.

* Each 1 per cent increase in female managers increases an organisation's return on assets by 0.07 per cent, equating to an extra $150,000 per year for a business valued at $10m.

* One in four businesses do not expect to achieve gender parity in leadership within five years, while 9 per cent believe they will never get there.

* 73 per cent of women and 64 per cent of men say it's important for men to be involved in gender diversity initiatives.

* 49 per cent of businesses say a lack of female talent is the primary barrier to gender parity in management.

* 40 per cent of businesses have a gender policy in place and 26 per cent measure its performance or progress.

* Childcare, as identified by 27 per cent of respondents, was seen as the main priority in helping achieve gender parity.

Experts hope it'll prompt companies to wake up to the fact that women are good for business. Source: 1 NEWS