Leaders’ diversity pledge a ‘foot on the accelerator’

The Champions for Change summit has produced an action-oriented plan to accelerate New Zealand’s future success and global competitive advantage through diversity and inclusive leadership.

The country’s top CEOs worked collaboratively at the Champions for Change summit on March 14 to reach a collective agreement, the first of its kind in New Zealand, to improve our economic growth and social prosperity by raising the value of Diversity and Inclusion within their organisations.

The Champions have pledged to measure and implement a global best-practice Diversity and Inclusion framework, now under development. The framework will underpin a measurable step-change and empower organisations to improve revenue, innovation and engagement with customers, employees and partners.

Governance & Leadership


Within the next three months, Champions for Change members will confirm a Governance Group, comprised of five members including co-chairs Dame Jenny Shipley and Anthony Healy. Each Champion will appoint an Implementation Leader from within their own organisations who will work closely with the Secretariat (Global Women) on the Champions’ behalf to plan and undertake action.


Actions, not talk


A cornerstone of the Champions for Change strategy is to take action, rather than talking about the issues. In order to change the game on diversity in leadership, Champions are working to address systemic policy, behavioural and cultural impediments and enablers, deliver sustainable improvements in leadership diversity and to take advantage of the Champions for Change coalition.


Make it personal


At the core of the Champions approach is a deep, personal commitment by individual leaders to change. Champions will meet regularly throughout the year to share progress and results on actions they are leading or participating in to drive accountability.


Within their organisations, Champions have agreed to:

  • Incorporate diversity and inclusion into their strategies, policies and practices, and their day-to-day actions and decisions
  • Challenge mindsets and behaviours that further entrench the status quo
  • Directly and personally engage their people, leadership teams and stakeholders in diversity and inclusion initiatives
  • Ensure widespread accountability and communication of progress

And within the community, Champions will take on a strong public advocacy role by sharing progress and new initiatives widely through the media, online and public forums, in addition to speaking candidly about their diversity journey.


Click on the images below to hear from some of our Champions.



David McLean, CEO of Westpac

As head of one of New Zealand’s largest and most successful banks, with over 1.2 million customers and more than 200 branches nationwide, David understands the inherent value of diversity within a business and how it translates directly to the service provided to his customers. In 1985, Westpac took a courageous stand by responding to union action to promote equal pay and changes to promotional procedures that were shown to discriminate against women. Westpac introduced equal pay and received a rating of “excellent” from the union for its affirmative action programme for women. David is passionate about continuing this proud history by further cementing the case for more diversity in New Zealand and leading the charge with tangible enhancements to his business.



Tony Gibson, CEO of Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland is New Zealand’s most significant port by value of trade and employs more than 400 full time equivalent staff. As CEO, Tony Gibson is determined to ensure that his workforce is reflective of the diverse community in which it operates and to deliver on his company’s commitment to contribute to the Auckland community and economy. Tony has championed new strategies, recognising diversity within the workforce as a critical component for growth and sustainability.



Champions for Change co-chair Anthony Healy, CEO and managing director of BNZ

Anthony is committed to BNZ’s mission to be the Bank for New Zealand and is passionate about enabling a higher achieving New Zealand and seeing businesses, communities and individuals grow and thrive. Anthony champions the bank’s focus on diversity, formerly leading BNZ’s Diversity Council, which saw BNZ recognised globally with a United Nations award in 2013 and named in Deloitte’s Top 200 in 2014. He advocated for the research and publication of ‘BNZ’s Diversity delivers a distinct competitive advantage’ case study in 2014 and continues to share insights from the study with other New Zealand businesses and Government. Anthony is also a sponsor of the Superdiversity Centre for Law, Politics and Business.



Global Women chair Sue Sheldon

As Global Women chair, Sue says the transparency and accountability of the Champions will help to impact large-scale change in New Zealand. The summit has agreed areas of focus, work streams and measurement and reporting to help motivate positive impacts within participating businesses.

Champions for Change is about leading with advocacy to accelerate the step-change in diversity here in New Zealand, she says. “We still have a long way to go. Businesses are limiting their available talent pool by not currently taking full advantage of the wider skills and knowledge available from a broader range of people in senior leadership roles.” Sue and the team at Global Women will work closely with Champions to implement changes over the short and long-term duration of their diversity journey.


Launched in 2015 under the guidance of co-chairs Dame Jenny Shipley and Anthony Healy, Champions for Change is a group of New Zealand CEOs and Chairs from across the public and private sectors who are committed to raising the value of diversity and inclusion within their organisations and implement strategies to actively promote the concept amongst peers.