After nearly two and a half decades operating as the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust or EEO Trust, the organisation will now deliver education resources and training as “Diversity Works NZ”. Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says the name change offers a much more accurate reflection of the organisation’s role in 2016.
“A lot has changed over the past 24 years. In 1992 Jim Bolger was Prime Minister. New Zealand’s population was 3.5 million people and less than 16% of the country’s resident population was born overseas. New Zealand was a vastly different place.” “Now we’re a country of nearly 4.7 million, a quarter of our population was born overseas and in Auckland nearly 40% of the population was born overseas.” “When the trust was founded in 1992, in response to the Government’s working party on ‘Equity in Employment’, the approach to equal employment opportunities was also very much of its time. It was almost solely focused on gender equity and the focus didn’t really extend beyond encouraging employers to make the hiring decision.” Now, Cassidy-Mackenzie says, the focus is much broader. “There is a growing appreciation that organisations who want to create successful, diverse work environments need to be thinking about policies and practices that are inclusive of different ages, cultures, ethnicities, genders, sexual identities. “Successful organisations understand that our workplaces need to be reflective of our increasingly diverse communities. If you create work environments where people feel valued and safe from judgement, then you are enabling people to do their best work.” For EEO Trust, this means the brief has broadened into new training areas such as unconscious bias, inclusive leadership and worklife balance, as well as building on existing programmes such as those focused on strengthening the talent pipeline for women. The branding announcement is being made at events in Auckland and Wellington, which are also marking the organisation’s milestone of entering its 25th year of operation. “The brand change is an important signal to Kiwi companies that a focus on ‘all things being equal’ is much too narrow. We want organisations to treat people fairly and to support them to contribute at their full potential, and that actually doesn’t mean that everyone should be treated the same way. Good employers respect that their employees have different needs.” Cassidy-Mackenzie says over the years EEO Trust has trained thousands of Kiwi companies, helping them change attitudes, remove barriers to diversity and create policies that are more inclusive. “In just the last seven years, from 2009 to 2015, we trained more than 6700 Kiwi managers, HR staff and employees at our workshops and education sessions.” EEO Trust has also been running the annual Diversity Awards NZ for nearly two decades and in 2016 is celebrating its 19th year. Over the same seven-year period, more than 2600 Kiwi employers and employees attended the awards. “These awards continue to provide a great platform to celebrate the companies who have been successful in creating more diverse, more inclusive work environments. They are something to aspire to and they are a great source of inspiration for other organisations. The winners’ stories also routinely show that diversity and inclusion is not about ‘warm fuzzies’, the companies that do it right end up with more engaged, more productive teams.” Other more recent innovations for EEO Trust include their biannual New Zealand Diversity Survey, which they first commissioned in 2013. The survey, carried out in partnership with the New Zealand Work Research Institute, provides a snapshot of the diversity issues that Kiwi companies face and where they need more support. “Before we established the New Zealand Diversity Survey (NZDS) there was a real gap in terms of understanding the diversity issues in New Zealand businesses. In terms of relevant, local benchmarks, they really didn’t exist – companies were either working with anecdotal evidence or it was a case of extrapolating data from research carried out in other countries,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie. “Now we’re building a much clearer picture of the diversity issues that matter most to New Zealand companies, where they have policies in place and where they need more support.” In August this year the organisation will launch its inaugural Diversity Summit under its new brand, Diversity Works.
For more information please contact:
Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie Chief Executive Diversity Works NZ (formerly the EEO Trust) Mobile: 64 274 397 458 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org