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Bias a big issue for Kiwi organisations

Tuesday, May 2, 2017, by Sheryl Blythen

Bias is a growing concern for New Zealand businesses trying to increase diversity and inclusion in their workplace, according to new research. The latest New Zealand Diversity Survey revealed that 48 per cent of organisations identified bias to be a key issue, up 18 per cent from the previous survey six months ago. Bias is now ranked as the third most important diversity issue in the workplace, behind wellbeing and flexibility. Diversity Works Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie is pleased to see there is a growing awareness around the impact bias can have. “Bias, particularly unconscious bias, can subtly undermine the many hours organisations invest in creating a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion. But awareness is the first step in mitigating its effects.” Public sector organisations are even more cognisant of bias, with 51 per cent of those respondents ranking it as a concern, making it the second most important diversity issue, behind wellbeing, for the public sector. “That’s not surprising. Many of New Zealand’s public sector organisations have made a real commitment to reducing the impact of bias, working with Diversity Works New Zealand on training and other strategies,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie. Bias was identified as one of the factors impacting the gender pay gap in New Zealand in research released recently by the Ministry for Women. “Publicity around the gender pay gap and research into its causes may have impacted the Diversity Survey results. Gender was identified as an important issue by 45 per cent of respondents, up from 29 per cent in our previous survey.” “We think it’s great the message around bias and the gender pay gap is spreading, and that organisations are gaining a better understanding around these important issues, and how they impact their workforce and ultimately, business performance,” she says. Top Tips: Practical steps to closing the gender pay gap Other key findings from the April 2017 New Zealand Diversity Survey were:

  • Wellbeing & wellness are still the number one diversity issue for New Zealand organisations, with 67 per cent ranking it as important. This is up five percent compared with October last year.
  • Flexibility is the second most important diversity issue for private sector organisations, with 59 per cent ranking it as a concern. In the public sector, slightly less than half of organisations see this as an important diversity issue.
  • New Zealand’s aging workforce continues to be a significant concern, with 47 per cent of organisations rating it an important issue, up three per cent from October 2016. However this is the diversity issue for which organisations are least likely to have a policy or initiative in place to address.
  • The number of organisations that considered ethnicity an important issue increased from 27 per cent in October 2016 to 41 per cent in April 2017. But more than a third of survey respondents reported that ethnicity was not an issue at all.
  • Nearly a third of organisations (32%) have a diversity strategy or plan in place, up from 20 per cent in October 2016, and 60 per cent take diversity into consideration in relevant HR policies.

Download the full report of the New Zealand Diversity Survey April 2017 The NZ Diversity Survey, which was initiated in 2013 to create a better understanding of the key diversity challenges facing New Zealand organisations, is carried out twice a year by Diversity Works New Zealand in partnership with the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and has been supported by AUT, and now Massey University.

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