Viewed as one of the world’s strongest examples of economic freedom and free-market opportunity, New Zealand has become one of the world’s most entrepreneurial and business-friendly economies. More...
Viewed as one of the world’s strongest examples of economic freedom and free-market opportunity, New Zealand has become one of the world’s most entrepreneurial and business-friendly economies. Following Asia’s economic crisis of the late 1990s, New Zealand’s GDP growth recovered strongly. Its annual GDP growth from 2001 through to 2004, on average, exceeded that of its major trading partners, partly as a result of strong net inward migration and population growth. Compared to its peer economies in the OECD, New Zealand weathered the global recession that began in 2008 with relative success. Over the past generation, New Zealand has transformed from an agrarian-oriented economy to one that is more industrialized and engaged in technological advances.
New Zealand’s economic advantages include a highly educated, flexible, and multi-skilled workforce; competitive property costs; unencumbered free movement of capital; and one of the lowest average tariff rates in the world. As evidenced by the economy’s strong showing in the annual World Economic Global Gender Gap Report, which measures gender gaps in access to resources and opportunities, women in New Zealand are generally able to take advantage of these conditions and participate in the private sector and in public life. According to the latest data available (2005 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor), just over one-third of entrepreneurs in New Zealand are women. Maori women, in particular, are highly entrepreneurial, ranking in the top three to four of all surveyed economies.
Still, while under the law there is no gender discrimination, gender barriers remain in New Zealand’s labor markets. While 73 percent of women aged 15-64 are working, just 20 percent of senior managers are women. According to 2014 figures from the New Zealand Stock Exchange, women comprise 12 percent of directors and 19 percent of officers of all listed companies. These disparities persist even though women’s participation in higher education now outweighs that of men 59 percent of all tertiary education graduates in 2009 were women.
As in other economies, the stereotype of women in the home and men in the workplace is slowly disappearing from the tapestry of New Zealand’s culture and economy. The number of women who are main or sole breadwinners is increasing. Women are less likely to be partnered in New Zealand and are more likely to do paid work to support themselves and their children. Given these changes, the economy’s government regulations are adapting and providing flexible work arrangements from the first day of employment. A new law increases paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 18 weeks by 2016 for women who qualify.
One champion of women’s role in the economy is the Ministry for Women, which has aligned its promotion of women’s economic empowerment with the government’s agenda for business growth. The New Zealand government is taking steps to reduce segregation of trades and occupations by gender, particularly through collaboration with the road transport industry and with the reconstruction industry following the Canterbury earthquakes, and through initiatives relating to women’s education and training in trades. Women are increasingly becoming members of Parliament, and the first female prime minister took office in 1997. The 38 women elected to Parliament in 2014 comprise 31 percent of the 51st New Zealand Parliament, which is in stark contrast to representation of 5 percent during the 1980s.
As detailed in this chapter, New Zealand offers some best practices for the development of female entrepreneurs, in particular through inclusive business networks that affect women, government services that cater to a broad female demographic, and private-sector initiatives aiming specifically to serve women.
In addition to on-the-ground business networks, New Zealand has numerous online networks that support women entrepreneurs. These networks use social media tools, such as Facebook and Meetup.com, and are sustained by groups who share either geographical proximity or specific entrepreneurial experiences, interests, or needs in areas such as technology and business education.
Networks that support women’s access to capital and assets:
Networks that support women’s access to markets:
Networks that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business:
Networks that support women’s leadership, voice and agency:
Networks that support women and innovation and technology:
While New Zealand’s entrepreneurial environment continues to flourish as a whole, public sector initiatives that cater to women are still nascent. The new focus on women in the economy and in labor policy is indicative of a climate that will likely catalyze the growth of woman-owned businesses, services for women entrepreneurs, and the number of women in management.
Initiatives that support women’s access to capital and assets:
Initiatives that support women’s access to markets:
Initiatives that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business:
Initiatives that support women’s leadership, voice and agency:
Initiatives that support women and innovation and technology:
The government of New Zealand has embarked on a substantial number of initiatives in recent years to provide women, particularly entrepreneurs, with the support and access to capital, assets, and markets necessary for them succeed and contribute to the economy’s growth. This has been particularly apparent through the Ministry for Women and programs championed by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.