EDITOR’S LETTER Calling for new blood

Older men. Golfing buddies. Part of an invisible network of social and business connections. That’s the popular picture of corporate directors in the minds of the public. So is it true? new study initiated by academic Jens Mueller and company director Sandy Maier flushes out the truths and myths in our nation’s boardrooms. The results form the basis of this month’s cover story: “Spotlight on directors”, starting on page eight of this issue.
Mueller and Maier wanted to find out how well this current batch of directors is doing its job. Are these individuals sufficiently competent? And how can we ensure we get good directors for the future?
One of the key findings was need for new directors, new blood, more diversity: whether that be gender or simply person’s background and track record prior to joining board. Also bear in mind that while the respondents are representative of both large and small organisations, it is probably for the SME market that we can gain most of the useful information. As Maier points out, many previous surveys have concentrated on the boardroom practices of large organisations. Now, we’ve got useful stuff dovetailed to the needs and daily practices of the vast majority of our nation’s companies.
One of the most telling findings was that 68 percent of respondents volunteered to make themselves available to the researchers to discuss these governance issues in more depth. This, as Mueller points out, signals remarkably high level of interest in, and commitment to, the topic. Never forget that these are busy people.
The survey remains open and will continue to flesh out more complete picture of the state of governance in New Zealand. Importantly, moves are also afoot to roll out the survey overseas: work has already started in Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, China, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. Once pulled together, the combined data will provide insights and an international scoring system against which individual New Zealand companies can measure their corporate governance practices.
There is raft of other initiatives in the wings too: all outlined in the “Action steps” box story on page 12 of this issue. If you haven’t already completed the survey, go to www.worldsurvey.info and click on the New Zealand flag at the bottom of the page. It will be eight minutes well spent.

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