Tuesday, 27th May, 2014

There is no doubt that New Zealand’s employers have embraced the concept of workplace diversity over the past few years and that many are putting in place the policies to promote equality and diversity within their business, but unless more focus is put on inclusion in the workplace, all their efforts may be in vain.

The latest round of the EEO Trust and Auckland Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Diversity Survey, identified that two thirds of organisations have neither a formal policy or programme in place to deal with workplace issues related to religion, personal beliefs, lifestyle or sexuality of employees.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says that creating an inclusive working environment is about more than just giving people equal opportunities to jobs. It is about embracing the “whole person” in the workplace and employers allowing people to be themselves - valuing difference not sameness.

“An inclusive culture can have a number of knock on benefits. It’s a simple equation but if employees feel valued they are more likely to add value in return, seeing increased productivity and bottom lines”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

At its most basic level it is about ensuring that no one feels excluded because of their age, gender, race, nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities or social background.

Michael Barnett, Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive and EEO Trust Chairman says that to achieve true inclusion in the workplace, we need to consider the needs of the unique individuals who make up an organisation and in a multi-cultural society such as ours this can be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

“We all want to feel included, to be part of something, to contribute to the bigger picture but we cannot achieve this on our own”.

It is said that along with love, work is one of the constants in all our lives and an experience that unifies us across timeframes and cultures, perhaps it’s high time that employers embraced this fact.

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, Equal Employment Opportunities Trust,
Mob.0274 397 458, DDI. (09) 580 4440

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce
Mob. 0275 631 150, DDI. (09) 302 9916


Notes for editors: 
The research partnership between the EEO Trust, Auckland Chamber of Commerce and AUT University is part of a wider programme of research activity being undertaken by AUT University’s New Zealand Work Research Institute. The Quarterly Diversity Survey series for 2014 will continue in August and November as well as a specific study examining organisational attitudes and practices in relation to older workers to be conducted in late June. To learn more about the work of the EEO Trust and the support available to help employers with workplace diversity visit www.eeotrust.org.nz.