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Diversity survey highlights bullying and harassment in large organisations

Wednesday, May 30, 2018, by Sheryl Blythen

New Zealand’s biggest businesses need to review the effectiveness of their bullying and harassment policies and processes.

The April 2018 New Zealand Diversity Survey revealed that 95 per cent of large organisations have a formal policy or an initiative in place to address harassment in the workforce.

However more than half have recorded incidents of bullying and harassment in the past year.

Diversity Works New Zealand Chief Executive Rachel Hopkins says the new data provides an opportunity to start a more in-depth conversation with businesses about the bullying and harassment challenges they are facing, and the support they need to mitigate this issue.

“We know that it’s not enough to simply have a policy in place; they have to be championed from the top levels of the organisation and communicated to staff at all levels. There needs to be consequences for people who breach the codes of conduct, and the process needs to be transparent to everyone involved, including the team member who has made a complaint,” she says. “This is an issue that has been in the spotlight this year and we are committed to providing organisations, large and small, with the practical advice and tools they need to create a workplace that is inclusive and respectful of everyone.”

Other key findings from the research include:

  • Organisations are still struggling to find the best ways to engage with their wisdom workers. An aging workforce was ranked as the third most important diversity issue by organisations surveyed and more than 60 per cent reported encouraging recruitment of people aged over 55. But the majority of businesses (59 per cent) have no formal policy or programme to address the challenges and opportunities of New Zealand’s increasingly aging workforce.
  • Workplace wellbeing remains the number one challenge for New Zealand organisations – 62 per cent of businesses identified this is an important diversity issue. Flexibility was ranked the second most important, followed by aging.
  • More than one fifth of respondents identified that Māori and Pasifika were under-represented in their organisations.

Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Massey’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences says the results of the survey are both encouraging and disheartening.

“There is often an acknowledgement that the world of work has changed and that diversity, in all its guises, is an important consideration when it comes to a productive workforce. But there is not always the necessary policies and processes to back this up. The issues associated with an aging workforce are a case in point. Yes, employers see it as important but then lack the necessary work-based policies,” he says. “The survey marks the progress made in many areas – and the work still to be done in others.”

The full report of the 2018 New Zealand Diversity Survey can be downloaded here.

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