WOMEN’S empowerment in the workplace will come into focus in Gisborne this year, with a UN initiative preparing to launch in the district.
The Gisborne branch of the New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW NZ) met with their national president Vicky Mee and about 10 Gisborne business representatives to discuss the UN’s women’s empowerment principles.
The principles were launched in 2010 as a partnership initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact Office. In New Zealand the principles are promoted by an equal partnership of UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand, BPW NZ, the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust and the Human Right Commission.
A regional launch will involve CEOs of businesses with 10 or more employees invited to sign up to the initiative.
“The meeting was very successful. There were a number of businesses that are interested and will talk about it with their organisations,” said Ms Mee.
There are seven principles in total, ranging from establishing gender equality in high-level corporate leadership, and measuring and publicly reporting on progress in achieving gender equality.
“We were very pleased with the turnout. The meeting was to discuss the principles and their application and get local support for a launch in Gisborne.”
The launch will go ahead later in the year, when notable guest speakers will be in attendance. A date has not yet been set.
“Often when a company signs up it is part of a wider diversity strategy. For example, it can mean when they report on pay levels or composition of senior management and boards, they use gender as one of the analysed factors so they can set targets for the following years.
“When they sign, it gives a tool and some structure to reaching gender equality,” she said.
An NZX gender diversity annual statistics report released a year ago showed that male directors outnumbered females — 88 percent to 12 percent across 109 participating companies.
“Last year there was only one woman in the country’s list of top-paid chief executives.
“Overall, it is about empowerment for women and advancing women’s talent and how that can happen.”
Ms Mee said launching the women’s empowerment principles in Gisborne would mean businesses who signed on were eligible to enter the White Camelia Awards, which honoured those organisations that had done the most to implement the principles.
“The business environment is changing. People are doing something not because they have to — they are embracing the principles because it is smart business.
“Let’s change the face of business in Gisborne.”
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