Initiatives that have helped recruit, retain and promote female officers are bettering the New Zealand Police and the community they serve.
The New Zealand Police face unique challenges in being an appealing career option for women, and, once in the workforce, women face further challenges around promotion and progression, says Strategic Advisor: Women’s Development Anne-Marie Fitchett.
Independent reviews have outlined a lack of progress around gender diversity measures, with the 2007 Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct highlighting a need to better recruit, develop and support women (and ethnic minority staff).
The New Zealand Police has more than 11,900 staff, including more than 8000 constabulary staff, operating in a complex 24/7 environment. Staff work from land, sea and air, managing nearly 800,000 emergency calls a year.
Recognising the significant challenge the police faced in transforming its gender diversity, Police Commissioner Mike Bush and the Executive Leadership Team have made it a top priority, introducing two major initiatives in 2014 and 2015. The first was setting up a Women’s Advisory Network and the second was recruiting targeting women.
The Women’s Advisory Network (WAN), designed to support women’s development, was mooted at the inaugural Women’s Commissioned Officer two-day forum held in December 2013. With strong support from the Commissioner, a governance group was set up to co-ordinate WAN activities at a national level and oversaw the creation of WANs in each district and in three service centres (Royal NZ Police College, Police National Headquarters and Police Communications).
All were required to submit action plans outlining how they were going to address the objectives of the network. The Strategic Advisor: Women’s Development position was established to coordinate and enable the implementation of initiatives identified by the WAN Governance Group. The role also serves as the conduit between the group and district networks.