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NZ Defence Force take top diversity award

Thursday, Aug 30, 2018, by Sheryl Blythen

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) initiative to tackle harmful sexual behaviour in the workforce has taken out the top award at the 2018 Diversity Awards NZ™.

The NZDF has rolled out mandatory Sexual Ethics and Respectful Relating (SERR) training to its 11,000 personnel since June 2017, aiming to create a workforce that is both empowered and prepared to address harmful sexual behaviour.

Diversity Works New Zealand Chief Executive Rachel Hopkins says the programme, which won the Supreme Award, has focused on one of the most topical issues facing workplaces today, creating genuine social change with a simple training strategy delivered to a large workforce in a very short timeframe.

“The training covered green behaviour the NZDF wanted to grow, orange behaviour it wanted to confront and talk about, and red behaviour, which was completely unacceptable. It also challenged NZDF’s people not to be bystanders by emphasising that every one of us, as an individual, has the power to prevent harmful sexual behaviour,” she says.

“Participants were encouraged to speak to three people about what they had learned, meaning the initiative has impact and reach throughout the organisation and the community.”

Assistant Chief Defence Human Resources Colonel Karl Cummins told the judges that NZDF is a reflection of society and is not immune to harmful behaviour; historic cases and reviews into NZDF contributed to recognising the need to undertake prevention activity.

Judging Convener Neil Porteous says the judges were impressed by the progress made in a short time by an organisation with a hierarchical structure and a traditionally masculine culture.

“If an organisation like the military can address this issue in a little over a year, other organisations can certainly change their culture,” he says.

The 2018 Diversity Awards NZ™, recognising organisations that champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace, attracted a record 93 entries this year.

They were presented at a gala dinner in Auckland this evening, attended by more than 700 business representatives from the public and private sector and the Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development and Disability Issues.

Here is a list of the winners.

Diversity Awards NZ 2018 Award winners

Supreme Award: New Zealand Defence Force

Empowerment Award – Ministry of Justice

Tomorrow’s Workforce Award – Fletcher Building

Skills Highway Award – Griffin's

Positive Inclusion Award - MidCentral District Health Board

Cultural Celebration Award joint winner – New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

Cultural Celebration Award joint winner – Waitemata District Health Board

Work Life Balance Award – RIVAL Wealth

Walk the Talk Award – Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala, Sudima Hotels & Resorts

Emerging Diversity and Inclusion Award – New Zealand Defence Force

Highly Commended Recommendations

Primary Industry Training Organisation – Diversability Award

Cargill Enterprises – Skills Highway Award

IAG New Zealand – Work Life Balance Award

Xero – Work Life Balance Award

St John Youth – Emerging Diversity and Inclusion Award

The judges also gave a special acknowledgement to Fonterra Co-operative Group for its ground-breaking work in bringing women into the workplace at the company’s Saudi Arabia operation.


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