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NZ Steel – Finding Strength in Diversity

Case Study

New Zealand Diversity Awards, 2013
Diversity Awards Category

NZ Steel – Finding Strength in Diversity

Tackling unconscious bias has delivered new talent to NZ Steel.

“The more we capitalise on different experiences, opinions, knowledge, ethnicities, genders and ages the more enriched we are as an organisation.”

That’s the thinking behind changes at NZ Steel that have seen the company tackle unconscious bias and grow its talent pool.

Issues solved through Diversity:
Imbalance in Gender

A relatively small number of women were applying for jobs with NZ Steel – and then the majority of those applicants were failing to pass the test for operational roles.

The company identified the problem as a lack of experience in a heavy industrial environment and little or no exposure to common safety systems and terminology.

NZ Steel’s Solution?

An e-learning package to help educate women about the industry and OSH related policies before they work at the mill. Regular tours of the steel mill also give female graduates the chance to see how it operates and offer some insight into the operational roles that they could fill.

Beating unconscious bias

NZ Steel identified unconscious bias in their recruitment processes which was impacting on the company’s ability to recruit female employees. Now they ensure they have a mixed gender selection panel for each recruitment stage:

  • Short listing
  • Interviewing
  • Selection
Valuing experience

Another challenge identified by NZ Steel was the age of its workforce.

A survey showed the average age of the NZ Steel workforce was in the high forties age group, with a number in their 50s and 60s or older.

The company recognised that if they left, their wealth of knowledge would go with them so a strong employee culture was developed which included positive ageing and respect for older staff. Older staff are given opportunities to share their knowledge with younger production workers in the business.

Retaining talent

To retain valued older staff NZ Steel offers:

  • Flexible hours
  • Part-time work
  • Phased contractual options

Benefits for the company have been three-fold with older workers sharing valuable knowledge with younger staff and greater engagement with the business for all ages.

More about NZ STEEL

Part of the BlueScope group of companies, NZ Steel has more than 1,000 employees and several hundred contractors. Its steel mill is located south of Auckland at Glenbrook where it produces flat rolled steel products for the building, manufacturing and agricultural industries locally and offshore.

“The more we capitalise on different experiences, opinions, knowledge, ethnicities, genders and ages the more enriched we are as an organisation.”

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