National leader Simon Bridges says it was “cheap, silly talk” for Women’s Minister Julie Anne Genter to say old white men need to “move on” from company boards to help close the gender pay gap.
Speaking to students at Christchurch’s Cobham Intermediate School on Thursday, Genter said the private sector needed to address the low level of female representation on New Zealand company boards if more businesses were to be led by women.
About 85 per cent of board members were male, and many were “old white men in their 60s”.
Speaking on The AM Show on Monday, Bridges said: “It’s a silly statement… [what] I don’t like is the virtue signalling here. It’s pointless stuff”.
The current Government’s Cabinet had fewer women on it than National’s had when it was in government. “Their front bench has fewer women than ours did,” Bridges said.
“I’m all for positively trying to increase your diversity over time and doing the right thing there as long as you’re bringing merit through.
“But they’re not doing that in the reality. So this is just cheap, silly talk,” he said.
“I just don’t think it’s good to go negative about a segment of society … older, white men, who are actually performing, and who actually this Government appoints every day… many older men who’ve got a lot to contribute.
“What you do is you positively over time increase your diversity. We did that, actually we’ve got a better record to date than these guys have,” Bridges said.
It’s interesting to compare the percentage women at each tier of five for the Government and Opposition. They are