Top business leaders pledge to fast-track workplace gender diversity at 1 Day for Change symposium

On Suffrage Day, September 19, at the 1 Day for Change symposium organised by Global Women, hundreds of business leaders shared advice on how to fast-track gender and ethnic diversity in the workplace.


The event at Auckland’s Viaduct Event Centre featured presentations by Fonterra Chief Executive Officer Theo Spierings, Spark Managing Director Simon Moutter, Ministry for the Environment Chief Executive Vicky Robertson, and former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley. In addition, the symposium featured an interview with renowned Australasian business leader Sir Ralph Norris by senior business journalist Fran O’Sullivan, and panel discussions around pay equity, Maori women in the workforce and the millennial generation.



  • Simon Moutter, MD of Spark, noted that diversity is “being invited to the party, inclusion being asked to dance.” He recommended three actions for change:
    • Lead with your heart, not your mind. Be open about your beliefs and where you’re at, including your aspirations and weaknesses
    • Intervene on values and behaviours, with equal weight to systems and processes
    • Seek and listen carefully to feedback from your people. Look deliberately at the uncomfortable truths


  • Vicky Robertson, CE at the Ministry for the Environment, gave her three top tips for increasing diversity and inclusion:
    • Lead from where you are. You don’t have to be a CEO
    • Don’t be afraid to lean in to conflict
    • Don’t make assumptions about what you see in front of you


  • NZME Business Editorial Director Fran O’Sullivan interviewed Sir Ralph Norris and discussed his active approach to creating a gender equal workplace. Sir Ralph advised setting objectives, developing processes and setting targets – clear outcomes for success – rather than quotas.


  • Theo Spierings, CEO of Fonterra, said success is based on 3 pillars: develop a value proposition; drive diversity; and create a win-win in communities.


Global Women CEO Miranda Burdon says the event was intended to generate action on the issue of gender equality in the workplace.


“As a country, we are perfectly positioned to be global leaders in this space. Our society is uniquely diverse, and it’s time our corporate structures caught up to truly reflect all the people of our nation.


“We each have an active role to play in reflecting New Zealand’s diversity in our organisations,” said Miranda Burdon.


1 Day for Change celebrated the anniversary of Suffrage Day in New Zealand (19 September 1893) when New Zealand led the world in granting women the right to vote.



Catherine Bright

Wright Communications

09 366 0040