AUT Professor Judy McGregor is the winner of this year’s ‘Supreme Award in Governance’ at the Women in Governance Awards, announced at an awards dinner last night [Thursday, 30 June].
Professor McGregor says research has an important role to play in helping to identify and change the poor statistics for female participation in governance.
“I am really excited that Governance New Zealand and Women on Boards have honoured a researcher-activist. I believe that benchmarking women’s progress on boards and making governance research accessible to the public is critically important. It’s a catalyst to improve gender and diversity at top tables in the public and private sectors,” says Professor McGregor.
“New Zealand lags dismally behind in the private sector with about 40 companies in the top 122 listed on NZX without a single female director, compared with only 20 companies of the top 200 on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) without women.”
“Luckily we have a growing number of male and female champions within Governance New Zealand and Women on Boards plus the Institute of Directors, the Shareholders Association, Global Women and the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, who know that board-ready women will improve corporate performance if given the chance.”
The Supreme Award in Governance is presented annually at the Women in Governance Awards to “a New Zealand woman who, through a lifetime commitment to promotion, support and mentoring, will have achieved excellence in governance”.
The criteria for the award state that this commitment to excellence governance will have “demonstrably contributed to the positive effect on the advancement and promotion of gender diversity, either at an executive or board level”.
The judges for the Supreme Award said Professor McGregor was “well known for promoting board diversity, both locally and internationally and has for many years been considered the ‘éminence grise’ for women directors in New Zealand. She is competent and influential in numerous fields, namely law, journalism, politics and business. She is an enormously impressive person, greatly talented and highly respected. At the same time, she is able to communicate with people at all levels and with great warmth. Judy is quite literally ‘a national treasure’.”
This year’s judging panel included Adrienne Young-Cooper, Cathy Quinn NZOM, Janette O’Neill, Dr. Jo Cribb, John Page and Sina Wendt-Moore.
AUT Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Desna Jury says the Supreme Award is a fitting acknowledgement of Professor McGregor’s work as a leader, a researcher and an activist.
“She has provided a constant and powerful voice for the women of this country – from academics to caregivers – Judy’s recognition of the issues facing women from all walks of life has been insightful and courageous. At Auckland University of Technology we are proud to have Judy as a voice from within, keeping us deeply informed and current and providing a role model and exemplar for our staff and students,” says Professor Jury.
Professor McGregor’s research interests span human rights, gender equality, the rights to decent work, equal pay and pay equity and the rights of older people. She also works on women’s representation and participation in professional, public, political and community life.
A former journalist, Professor McGregor was the first woman in Australasia to edit a major newspaper and as editor she campaigned against the South African rugby team (Springboks) 1981 tour of New Zealand and walked in the 1975 Maori land march (hikoi).
She was the first Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and led its campaign against electoral finance legislation that threatened freedom of expression, as well as working on strengthening parliamentary democracy, disability rights and women’s rights.
Recently Professor McGregor completed a three-year research project on human rights in New Zealand with Professor Margaret Wilson from the University of Waikato and human rights lawyer, Sylvia Bell. It concluded that New Zealand is regressing in areas such as child poverty, pay equity for women, and social and economic disadvantage for women.