EDITOR’S LETTER : Colour blind?

After nine-year run of Labour-led governance, the political hue of those being chosen to head state-owned enterprises is gradually shifting across the colour spectrum in terms of ideological outlook and sphere of influence.
As Colin James notes in this month’s cover story, the Government wants “those anointed to its boards to be fit for purpose” both in terms of their ability and their level of comfort with more conservative government line. The aim, he notes, is for greater clarity and tighter nexus between the political power-base and its sprawling Crown Entity empire.
There is also drive to make SOE governance more closely mirror that of publicly listed companies in terms of transparency and good practice. While that sounds good, it does raise some question about whether private-public comparisons are any more relevant than political colouration when it comes to evaluating board performance.
Surely that depends more on individual board membership and you’d kinda hope that director competence is both common (to public or private sectors) and colour blind.
Meanwhile the message from one recent visitor to New Zealand (p68) is that diversity is increasingly in demand at both senior executive and board level. According to top international recruiter Albert Froom, stint in not-for-profits helps round out the senior executive skill-base and cultural diversity around the boardroom table better reflects the “glocal” (global/local) nature of business in the 21st century.
It fits the old maxim that “strength lies in diversity” and that those coming from too limited an ideological or cultural viewpoint may not be open to all the nuances needed for the best decision-making.

Vicki Jayne

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