Julia Xu of Oravida: on ethnic and gender diversity in senior leadership

Global Women member Julia Xu appeared on NewstalkZB with Mike Hosking this morning to discuss ethnic diversity in senior positions, and women in leadership.

New Zealand continues to move closer to Asia in economic and trade terms and the growth of our Asian population continues to change the make-up of New Zealand society. Greater ethnic diversity across business leadership is a rapidly growing area of consideration but is not yet reflected in the composition of senior leadership across corporate New Zealand.

Originally from China, Julia Xu is the co-founder and the Managing Director of Oravida Ltd, a New Zealand based company specializing in the branding and the promotion of NZ’s premium food products primarily for the Chinese market through direct sales distribution platforms.

In the interview she says ethnic diversity in senior positions is improving – that the fact society is now talking about it is a sign of improvement – and that the public and business community needs to be aware of it. She says people need to recognise the benefits women and ethnic diversity in leadership bring to table.

Hosking and Xu discussed the implementation of a quota system on diversity, with Xu saying it should be merit-based, but there may be some instances where a quota may be useful, for example when women are actively discriminated against.

Xu says women in China are not well represented in senior positions, which also means there is a lack of examples for young women to follow. She credits studying internationally and working in the USA, Japan, Hong Kong and New Zealand for her personal success – the advantage of having been able to witness women being represented in senior positions.

She says one reason for the lack of diversity, despite it being a well-known fact that diversity is good for business, could be that businesses haven’t had a chance to themselves see the benefits women bring to the table, and “has a bit to do with old-school mentality”.

Global Women believes strongly that greater diversity is vital if New Zealand is to succeed in driving economic and societal growth for the benefit of all and is championing the issue of diversity in leadership in this country.