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Public sector mahi showcased at Whiria Ngā Kaha conference

Thursday, Oct 27, 2022

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Public sector people leaders and diversity champions can learn from their government peers, better understand the inclusion landscape in the private sector and benefit from hearing global perspectives by attending Whiria Ngā Kaha Workplace Inclusion Aotearoa 2023.

This three-day international conference, to be held in Rotorua in February next year, boasts around 50 local and international speakers, with inclusion experts from the private sector and the public sector, including core and local government, on the programme.

Diversity Works New Zealand Chief Executive Maretha Smit says day one’s Work and Wellbeing theme is particularly relevant to public sector delegates.

“The average age of the public sector workforce is decreasing, with agencies working hard to bring younger people into core and local government.”

That brings the need to include a generation of young people who think, behave and work differently to what is supported by our existing organisational structures, she says. It also means dealing with a cohort of workers with high levels of anxiety.

The Work and Wellbeing section explores future workplaces where this young talent can thrive.

Day two’s Race at Work session will showcase some of the mahi underway in the public sector.

“Diversity and inclusion work in the public sector has shifted significantly – there is now a greater understanding of inequities in the workplace through the lens of race and especially its intersectionality with gender, the Rainbow community and disability," Maretha says.

However, there are still difficult conversations to be had and this session looks at how to equip the workplace with the frameworks and language to navigate those conversations.

In the Creating Conditions for a Just Society presentation, representatives from the Ministry of Justice will present aspects of the National Action Plan Against Racism.

Pratima Namasivayam, Deputy Chief Executive Policy and Analytics for the Ministry for Ethnic Communities, will be part of a panel discussion on navigating race and culture conversations in the workplace.

Following on from that discussion, Dr Sripriya Somasekhar from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will present a case study: From Diversity & Inclusion to Anti-Racism.

Later that day, Te Puni Kokiri Deputy Secretary – Strategy, Finance and Performance Grace Smit will speak to strengthening Māori economic resilience through developing wāhine and rangatahi Māori leadership.

Lyndele von Schill, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at the United States National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Virginia, will discuss creating opportunities for marginalised young people in STEM alongside Naomi Manu from Pūhoro STEMM Academy.

Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission’s Chief Data Officer Josh Masson will present a case study on the work the organisation has done to capture critical data and use it to drive its diversity programme and initiatives.

On day three of the conference, Chris Lamb, Deputy Commissioner of New South Wales Public Service Commission, will share his experiences driving diversity and inclusion in the Australian public sector. With him on stage, we will welcome leaders of Papa Pounamu, the initiative that sets the diversity and inclusion work programme for the wider Public Service, to share insights about the need for deliberate leadership in building momentum for change in public sector workplaces.

“These are just some of the presentations, panel discussions, breakout sessions and case studies across the three-day programme,” Maretha says. “There are many more fascinating case studies and learnings from the private sector and international partners. This is a great opportunity to bring together the public sector and private sector so we can learn from each other.”

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