Auckland Transport (AT) needs to work for all Aucklanders- which means a more diverse perspective from the top down.
AT’s current governance and management teams are strikingly unrepresentative. Luckily, we have a chance to change that. In February, Auckland Council will appoint 3 new directors to AT’s Board of Directors.
We’re calling on Council to seize this opportunity to fulfil its promise of more diverse governance – because a city prospers when its leadership is truly aligned with its people.
To: Appointments and Performance Review Committee Transport is critical to Aucklanders.
This open letter calls on you to build diversity at the decision-making levels of Auckland Transport, your Council Controlled Organisation.
For Auckland to thrive, Auckland Transport must reflect the needs and experiences of all Aucklanders. This principle should be embodied at the highest levels in the organisation. But it’s not.
We believe many AT decisions that seem inequitable or short-sighted reflect a profound lack of diversity at management and governance level.
There is currently a striking lack of gender and ethnic diversity amongst the organisations leadership. Across the entire executive team and board of directors there are just 2 women and 14 men, most of whom are white.
We believe Aucklanders deserve better - and our city’s mobility problems deserve more ambitious solutions. Groups with diverse perspectives lead to better outcomes than those with a limited viewpoint, because familiar habits of thinking tend to foreclose creative approaches. That’s why we’re calling for more inclusive and diverse leadership – taking a cue from the new Mayor of London, who’s just restructured the board of Transport for London in order to more effectively represent Londoners.
Fortunately, we know Auckland is committed to more diversity in governance. The Appointment and Remuneration Policy for Board Members of Council Organisations spells out several options for achieving this goal, including supplementary training for candidates who bring other crucial skills and perspectives to the table; and using the reappointment process to improve diversity on the board. These tools are in your hands.
The current chair of the AT board, Dr Lester Levy, has said he wants AT to be “more open and more focused on the public it serves.” We are confident there’s no shortage of brilliant people eager to bring their experience, expertise, and fresh perspectives to this task.
The situation is urgent. Auckland has the worst traffic congestion in the country, and our poorest people are being pushed to the sprawling fringes of Auckland, with little transport choice. Too many streets are being rebuilt without an eye to anything other than car travel; public transport struggles to meet demand; the growing cycle network is still nowhere near its true potential; and pedestrians of all ages take their lives in their hands simply trying to get around.
Transport is a critical issue for all Aucklanders. Our mobility choices affect our health, wealth, safety, and mental wellbeing – and can make or break our sense of community.
So we urge you to leap at this chance to pursue the vision of an Auckland Transport that looks and thinks more like our city at large.
Please make diversity a priority in your upcoming appointments to Auckland Transport’s board of directors. Our shared future depends upon your wisdom in recognising what – and who – makes Auckland move.
Ngā mihi mahana,