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Media releases from the EEO Trust 



1 July 2014

Judging underway to find winning workplaces

For the 17th year in a row the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust is once again excited by the entries that have come flooding in from organisations across New Zealand, keen to have their workplace diversity successes recognised and celebrated. 

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, says that the number and quality of entries this year is a positive reflection of how the diversity landscape has changed and become a more accepted part of the business environment.

“Since the awards programme began in 1997, we have had nearly 600 entries from organisations of all shapes and sizes and this year I’m delighted to report that we have seen an increase of just over 20% across the board with entries well above our annual average”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.  

In 2013 the awards underwent a rebrand with a new name, look and feel to more accurately represent the diversity of the New Zealand workforce.

“This year we have gone one step further by adding additional categories and aligning our awards programme with our diversity platforms better than ever before”.

So what makes this awards event stand out from the crowd? Cassidy-Mackenzie says it’s because this awards is about celebrating organisations and people who embrace the whole person that comes into the workplace.

A perfect example of this recognition that people are the key to success for any organisation, are the winners of last year’s ANZ Supreme Award, the New Zealand Defence Force with their LGBTQI inclusion programme - OverWatch.

An article in last week’s Herald highlighted the Ministry of Defence as being one of the “worst offenders” amongst the public service with a 42 per cent pay gap between the genders according to findings from the Human Rights Commission’s report into gender pay inequality in the public service.

Whilst the EEO Trust would not seek to defend any such inequality, we publicly support the New Zealand Defence Forces efforts to promote a more inclusive culture within their workforce and believe they set a precedent for not only the Ministry of Defence and other public sector organisations in this country but around the world. 

Since taking away the top prize at the ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2013, the NZDF have received international acclaim for their OverWatch programme and even ranked number one in the World LGBTI Military Index earlier this year.

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Assistant Chief of Personnel, Brigadier Howard Duffy, says organisations have an ethical responsibility to support all people regardless of their sexual identity - an area that the NZDF recognised there was room for improvement in.

“Being recognised by the EEO Trust and winning the Supreme Award acknowledges the great work of NZDF and the continued commitment of OverWatch in ensuring that our LGBTQI community feel supported and empowered to be themselves.”

“Being involved in these awards further increased the positive public profile of the NZDF, and of OverWatch, and highlights our commitment to being a supportive, inclusive and modern military force”.

The ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2014 winners will be announced at the celebration gala dinner at The Langham Hotel on 27th August.

To find out more and secure your early bird tickets visit www.eeotrust.org.nz

 

The Award categories

The Awards judges

The Awards sponsors

For more information contact:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, bcassidy-mackenzie@eeotrust.org.nz or 0274397458

OR

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager, eedgar@eeotrust.org.nz or 021 674443



28th May 2014 

Being inclusive shouldn’t be exclusive

There is no doubt that New Zealand’s employers have embraced the concept of workplace diversity over the past few years and that many are putting in place the policies to promote equality and diversity within their business, but unless more focus is put on inclusion in the workplace, all their efforts may be in vain. 

The latest round of the EEO Trust and Auckland Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Diversity Survey, identified that two thirds of organisations have neither a formal policy or programme in place to deal with workplace issues related to religion, personal beliefs, lifestyle or sexuality of employees.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says that creating an inclusive working environment is about more than just giving people equal opportunities to jobs. It is about embracing the “whole person” in the workplace and employers allowing people to be themselves - valuing difference not sameness.

“An inclusive culture can have a number of knock on benefits. It’s a simple equation but if employees feel valued they are more likely to add value in return, seeing increased productivity and bottom lines”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

At its most basic level it is about ensuring that no one feels excluded because of their age, gender, race, nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities or social background.

Michael Barnett, Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive and EEO Trust Chairman says that to achieve true inclusion in the workplace, we need to consider the needs of the unique individuals who make up an organisation and in a multi-cultural society such as ours this can be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. 

“We all want to feel included, to be part of something, to contribute to the bigger picture but we cannot achieve this on our own”.

It is said that along with love, work is one of the constants in all our lives and an experience that unifies us across timeframes and cultures, perhaps it’s high time that employers embraced this fact.

Ends

Notes for editors:

The research partnership between the EEO Trust, Auckland Chamber of Commerce and AUT University is part of a wider programme of research activity being undertaken by AUT University’s New Zealand Work Research Institute.

The Quarterly Diversity Survey series for 2014 will continue in August and November as well as a specific study examining organisational attitudes and practices in relation to older workers to be conducted in late June.

To learn more about the work of the EEO Trust and the support available to help employers with workplace diversity visit www.eeotrust.org.nz

For media assistance contact:

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager, eedgar@eeotrust.org.nz or 021 674443

 



19th May 2014

More flexible leave rules will be a game changer 

Last week’s budget announcement to boost the Government’s paid parental leave scheme is about more than just a few extra dollars in people’s pockets, says EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie.  

The increase in paid parental leave although not unexpected is of course a welcome additional allowance for working parents along with the changes in paid leave for carers, and more flexibility around eligibility criteria.  

For employers, one key advantage of this flexibility is that it will enable an employee on parental leave to return to work for an occasional day or attend staff events such as planning days and training.

Cassidy-Mackenzie says there are huge benefits to be gained from this and advises that businesses should invest the time and effort to keep the lines of communication open when employees are absent on parental leave. 

There is currently a disconnect in the way parental leave is managed, with most employers meeting their statutory obligations but then waving their employee off and 12 months later expecting them to pick up where they left off.

“This period of time away from the workplace can cause significant feelings of isolation and disengagement for the employee. Managers have a responsibility to properly transition returning staff and I think these new flexible provisions will help make this easier for both parties”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.  

A recent Ernst & Young report put economic losses across Australia and New Zealand as a result of mothers leaving the workforce at a phenomenal $9.64 billion.

With such high stakes, this recent development is a positive step towards a future model where more employers retain talented female staff and encourage women to return to their roles following a period of parental leave and that can only be a good thing for everyone. 

Ends

For media assistance contact:

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager, eedgar@eeotrust.org.nz or 021 674443

 



10 April 2014

17 years of celebrating workplace diversity

Is your organisation a model of productivity and employee engagement?  Do you have a great story to tell about your workplace efforts to encourage diversity? 

Entries are now open for the EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2014, a not to be missed opportunity for employers to showcase how they value and nurture their most valuable asset - their employees.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says that there have been so many inspirational stories shared on this platform over the years and each year brings renewed celebration.

During the event’s history there have been forward thinking flexible work programmes,  anti bullying initiatives, literacy and numeracy training programmes and recruiting strategies to encourage diversity, amongst the success stories shared.

“We all want our businesses to be successful, and people are the key to that success. This Awards ceremony is about celebrating those people and the organisations who embrace the whole person in the workplace,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

“It’s clear that if people are encouraged to make the most of their abilities and balance their responsibilities at work and at home, they’ll be better engaged and more committed employees. The positive impact of this for employers is that they will get more of that magic workplace ingredient – extra productivity.”

The EEO Trust welcomes entries from all organisations, from any sector across New Zealand and invites you to share your diversity stories and benchmark your organisation against others. Previous entrants to the awards have found a number of positive benefits in taking part including an increased profile, a free diversity health check and being seen as an Employer of Choice.

This year there are eight categories with a Supreme Winner being chosen from the winners of each category, so more opportunities than ever before to share the successes of your workplace diversity programmes or initiatives.

So what are you waiting for? Entries for the EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2014 close on Friday June 20th, with the Awards gala dinner taking place in Auckland on August 27th.  

To find out more, to download an application form or to see the stories of past winners visit www.eeotrust.org.nz

Ends

The Award categories

  • Tomorrow’s Workforce Award
  • Cultural Celebration Award
  • Empowerment Award
  • Skills Highway Award
  • Positive Inclusion Award
  • Divers-ability Award
  • Work Life Balance Award
  • Walk the Talk Award

For more information:

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager, eedgar@eeotrust.org.nz or 021 674443



11 March 2014

Employers need to act to avoid losing good people

An increasingly age diverse workforce is becoming a reality and a diversity focus for organisations across New Zealand. As we face a looming labour shortage ageing workers, youth and migrants will become a key target for businesses to recruit and retain.

The latest Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Quarterly Diversity Survey identified ageing as a top diversity matter for over half of New Zealand’s employers with almost two thirds of organisations seeming unprepared to manage or support an ageing workforce.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says the survey tells us that as well as ageing, New Zealand’s employers are concerned with balancing the needs of a diverse workforce including those coming into the workplace for the first time.

 “With an ageing population and shifting expectations for the age of retirement, we really need to understand why we’re currently overlooking this rich talent pool, what perceptions are driving this and how we can look to change it,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

 “Employers need to consider both the business benefits of retaining older workers such as less churn and loss of skills/ knowledge, but also what the drivers are for this group. Research tells us that if you look after your staff and put in place appropriate support mechanisms such as flexible working arrangements or health and wellbeing programmes, that you will see increased retention not to mention productivity and performance.”

Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Michael Barnett, says another strong response to the survey shows New Zealand companies are serious about understanding the level of diversity in their business and seeing how they compare to the wider workforce.

 “More people are recognising that diversity has come out of the HR office and is something that needs to be part of routine behaviours in the workplace. This country is facing a labour shortage and every business is going to need to address skills shortages if they aren’t already. Embracing diversity makes good business sense. It means having access to talent across all demographics and the competitive edge to address the skills shortage head-on.”  Says Barnett.

AUT University’s Professor Tim Bentley, who heads up the EEO Trust diversity research, says bias was also highlighted as an area of concern for 39% of businesses. This is a significant increase on the first diversity survey run in 2013 and demonstrates that there is a growing awareness of the conscious and unconscious bias that impacts decision making in all organisations.

AUT University’s partnership with the EEO Trust and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce will see researchers explore several other areas in 2014 including a study examining organisational attitudes and practices in relation to older workers and research into the management of workplace bullying and harassment.

To learn more about the work of the EEO Trust and the support available to help your organisations’ diversity journey visit www.eeotrust.org.nz

For media assistance contact:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, Equal Employment Opportunities Trust,

0274 397 458

(09) 580 4440

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce

0275 631 150

(09) 302 9916



27th January 2014 

Helping employees rediscover their mojo in 2014

Whether a return to work was a welcome break from the chaos of home life or a dreaded end to a beautiful holiday, getting back into the swing of things after a prolonged break can be hard work and a fact which many employers will be only too aware of.

With Christmas and the New Year feeling like a distant memory and another public holiday on the horizon, the first couple of months of the year are likely to be a rollercoaster in terms of employee engagement and motivation.

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive Equal Employment Opportunities Trust, says research tells us only 30% of managers make a special effort to motivate their staff after the holidays despite over half of employees agreeing it is difficult to get into gear.

“This is an equation that does not add up, especially in terms of outputs for business. There are a number of simple measures that management can put in place to help invigorate employees and enable them to rediscover their focus, ultimately resulting in increased productivity and staff retention”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

“Recognising the need for work/life balance is key to helping people adjust to being back in a work routine. Where possible discuss staff needs and provide support to enable them to do their job in the best way to get the outcomes that suit them and the organisation”.

It comes as no surprise that a big driver for employee satisfaction and engagement is a flexible employer. The provision of such initiatives as working from home or the ability to adjust working hours to fit around personal commitments such as childcare during the school holidays, will make a huge difference to employees overall motivation”.

Cassidy-Mackenzie goes on to say that the Trust’s recent quarterly diversity results show how the opportunity to work flexibly in this way can result in more contented staff, encourage autonomy, and build trust and intrinsic motivation across an organisation.

“Around 59% of those EEO member organisations surveyed recognise the benefits of flexible working arrangements for staff recruitment, retention, empowerment and engagement with the important net benefits of improved productivity or performance”, she says.

Encouraging employees to set goals and identify training opportunities or holding team events to ensure everyone has a shared sense of purpose early on, will also go a long way to achieving positive employee engagement throughout the year.

Learn more about employee engagement as a strategic priority and its direct correlation with performance as well finding out what it means to be an EEO employer 

 

For media assistance please contact:

Emma Edgar, EEO Trust Communications Manager

eedgar@eeotrust.org.nz

09 5804447 or 021 364447



25th November, 2013

Workplace Diversity Results

Managing an aging workforce has emerged as the leading issue for New Zealand’s larger companies while wellbeing and flexibility are the top concerns for the country’s small and medium organisations, according to the first EEO Trust Quarterly Diversity Survey.

The survey, carried out by AUT University’s New Zealand Work Research Institute, attracted over 1460 respondents and has been developed to provide a benchmark for diversity in New Zealand workplaces.

EEO Trust chief executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says the strong response to the survey which included Auckland Chamber of Commerce members shows New Zealand companies are serious about understanding the level of diversity in their business and seeing how they compare to the wider workforce.

“To make progress in achieving a workforce that more accurately reflects the demographics of the population – in terms of age, ethnicity, gender or disability – we need to know what it is about diversity that our companies are grappling with. We’re undertaking this survey series so we can take stock and then support companies to make changes that will broaden the talent pool they’re working with.” says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

“The fact that smaller companies have highlighted wellbeing and flexibility shows that it might be the mechanisms that support diversity that are presenting obstacles.”

Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Michael Barnett, says the results highlight the different issues that small and large organisations grapple with.

“For example, ethnicity, gender, bias and bullying and harassment were of notably greater concern for large organisations than for small organisations.”

AUT University’s Professor Tim Bentley, who is heading the EEO Trust diversity research, says bias was highlighted as an area of concern for 31% of all small and medium companies while almost half of all large organisations (48%) identified bias as an issue.

The survey also highlighted some shortcomings in the level of policy in place to address diversity issues.

Despite aging being identified as the top issue among larger companies, over 60% of organisations have neither a policy or programme in place to manage or support an aging workforce.

“With an aging population and shifting expectations for the age of retirement, we really need to understand why we’re overlooking this rich talent pool and what perceptions are driving this and then we can look at how to change it,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

Generally, less than half of responding organisations have a policy in place to address each of the various diversity issues. The exception are the issues of bullying and harassment, where 60% of organisations have a policy in place. Policy specific to disability was in place for 45% of survey respondents. 

“However, for most diversity issues, over half of the organisations had either a policy or an initiative in place, indicating that they are taking steps to address these issues,” says Professor Bentley. 

The Quarterly Diversity Survey will be repeated in February, May and August next year.

AUT University’s partnership with the EEO Trust and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce will see researchers explore several other areas in 2014 including a gender and leadership study and research into the management of workplace bullying and harassment.

Notes for editors:
The research partnership between EEO Trust and AUT University is part of a wider programme of research activity being undertaken by AUT University’s New Zealand Work Research Institute. The Future of Work Programme involves collaboration between the New Zealand Work Research Institute’s specialist research groups and a large network of internal and external partners. The programme is a truly multidisciplinary initiative, bringing together expertise in employment relations, employment law, labour market economics, ICT, industrial and organisational psychology, human resource management, occupational health and safety, tourism and hospitality, and ergonomics.

Diversity by numbers

  • 1468 NZ companies responded to the first Quarterly Diversity Survey
  • Wellbeing was the top concern for small (48%) and medium (55%) companies
  • Aging was the top issue for large organisations (63%)
  • Flexibility was an issue for nearly half of all respondents
  • Ethnicity, gender and bias, bullying and harassment was more of an issue for large companies
  • There are serious gaps in diversity policy – less than 50% of respondents had policies in place to address each of the diversity issues with the exception of bullying and harassment

Media contacts:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, Equal Employment Opportunities Trust,

0274 397 458

(09) 580 4440

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce

0275 631 150

(09) 302 9916

Prof Tim Bentley, AUT University

021 814 501

(09) 921 9999 x5446



13th November 2013

Worker exploitation cases damaging NZ equal employment record

Exploitation of migrant workers is a black mark on New Zealand’s standing as a fair country that strives to provide equal opportunities, says EEO Trust chief executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie.  

“We’re a country that prides itself on being fair and honest so we need to speak up when we see those standards being compromised in our workplaces.”

In a case publicised last week, an Auckland-based Korean food-preparation factory is alleged to have exploited migrant workers with 16-hour working days with few or no breaks, below minimum wages and no employment contracts.

“It is really important that when abuses against migrant workers are identified, such as those alleged against a North Shore factory last week, the agencies that respond make it extremely clear these abuses of basic rights will not be tolerated.”

“We want all migrant workers to understand their basic rights as employees in New Zealand. We understand it can be frightening to speak out against these abuses but New Zealand cannot be a country that tolerates worker exploitation.”

Information on basic employment rights, including annual leave, break entitlements, minimum wages and NZ work entitlements, is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website http://www.dol.govt.nz/er/minimumrights/   

Cassidy-Mackenzie says while the exploitation in the recent case involved serious employment breaches, there are more subtle exploitations and discriminations taking place in workplaces around the country.

“English-only language policies in workplaces, or job advertisements that specify applicants must have English as their first language or racial slurs – all of these are infringements on an individual’s basic rights.”

“On a human rights level, each case of worker exploitation or abuse is saddening and it has a knock-on effect for families and communities. On an employment rights level, it is a business issue and it is the responsibility of every organisation to ensure they are meeting the basic rights of each of their employees.”

For more information please contact:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, EEO Trust 0274 397 458



Media Release - 19th September

120 years but a long way to go

Today New Zealand celebrates 120 years of women winning the right to vote and it is an opportunity for this country to celebrate equality at work.

The chief executive of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust says women’s suffrage day is a time for all organisations and businesses to endorse gender equity in the workforce, but there is still a long way to go.

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says women make up half of our population and are high achievers at school and in tertiary studies but she questions why that doesn’t continue in senior managerial roles and around boardroom tables.

“Recent figures on reported gender diversity on boards of our listed companies show just eight percent of directors are women.”

Last year the NZX introduced a rule requiring companies with a gender equity policy to include a gender breakdown of directors and senior managers in their annual report.

Mrs Cassidy-Mackenzie says 110 local companies come under this rule and of the companies that reported gender diversity there were 205 male directors and 18 female.

“This appears to be a drop compared to 2012 Census on Women’s Participation that showed women directors of the top 100 companies had reached more than 14 percent.”

She is urging all businesses to focus on diversity by having a career pipeline available for EVERY employee, and implement a gender diversity policy.

“It is also disappointing to see that about 23 percent of senior managers are women, when it should be much higher. Success comes from focusing on people’s differences rather than similarities and I hope all organisations start making positive changes now.”

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie is a judge in the UN Aotearoa Women’s Empowerment Principles White Camellia Awards which will tonight applaud businesses that are endorsing gender equity.

To see the stats on 120 years of suffrage click here.



Defence Force takes top prize in Diversity Awards

The New Zealand Defence Force’s OverWatch programme entry into this year’s ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards focuses on investing resources and time into ensuring employees with different lifestyles and gender identity obtain the right support and understanding throughout the armed forces.

The program was initiated by personnel within the armed forces who valued the support those with different lifestyles required.  It was quickly endorsed by military leaders as a vital part of backing the wellbeing of its people, irrespective of being a uniformed or civilian staff.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Chief Executive, Beverley Cassidy-MacKenzie, who was one of the five judges says OverWatch provides resources for personnel for example those who are questioning their own sexuality and are seeking advice.

“It also educates Defence Force leaders about different lifestyles to increase understanding throughout the armed forces.”

 Mrs Cassidy Mackenzie says the programme is now shared among international allied forces via NATO and those serving offshore can access the support group and get assistance wherever they are serving in the world.

Category Winners of the ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2013 

Supreme Award - NZ Defence Force.  OverWatch

Tomorrow’s Workforce Award – Ministry of Social Development, WINZ cadet programme

Highly Commended - NZ Defence Force. LSV.

Diversity Award – NZ Defence Force.  OverWatch (and Supreme Award)

Work & Life Award – Coca-Cola Amatil

Skills Highway Award – Pacific Homecare

Walk the Talk Award – Peter Potaka, Statistics NZ

The following is a brief description of the categories in the ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards 2013

Tomorrow's Workforce Award, which recognises innovative responses to tomorrow's employment challenges.

Diversity Award, for organisations that make the most of employee diversity.

Work & Life Award, which celebrates initiatives that create opportunities for greater engagement and productivity in a workplace.

Skills Highway Award, which recognises workplaces which can show how they have helped improve their employees' reading, maths and communication skills.

Walk the Talk Award, which celebrates effective workplace diversity leaders.

 29 August 2013


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