Top diversity employers revealed

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When was the last time that one of your diversity initiatives made an employee cry tears of joy and gratitude?

Or gave a high-needs young person with disabilities the chance to explore their interests and passions?

For some Kiwi companies, such occurrences are just part of business as usual.

The 17th ANZ and Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Diversity Awards, held in Auckland on 27 August, honoured the employers leading the way in workplace diversity.

Engineering group Jacobs took out both the supreme award and the empowerment award for its diversity programme.

EEO Trust CEO Bev Cassidy-MacKenzie said that the initiative began as a programme for women in consultancy and grew into a diversity committee and an inclusive programme looking at everything from age to ethnicity.

She said the scalability of the programme was also a winning factor and it had scope for growth.

“They have shown how they could take a small organisation, take it through its growth and roll out what was a women in consultancy model and grow it into a diversity model. It was really impressive.”

One business which stood out and earned a highly commended in the “divers-ability” category was BlastaCars, a small west Auckland go-karting company.

“They employed a high-needs young person with disabilities and they had a great model for the way that they had employed this young person,” said Cassidy-MacKenzie.

“A lot of people will employ people with disabilities on a voluntary basis to give them work experience, but they saw some real merit in paying this young person, but then taking it even further and letting him explore what his passion was, which was around engines and mechanics. They were giving him time in the pits to work on cars – but all within health and safety. They had to cover off a whole lot of things.”

She said the company’s managing director was 26 years old and the team members were all under the age of 30.

“One of her [the managing director’s] big drivers for employing him was that if his positivity rubbed off on even one of her staff, he was worth his weight in gold. How could she go wrong?”

Aurecon, the winner of the tomorrow’s workforce award, had implemented a cadetship-style programme alongside local iwi to bring young Maori into their workforce, which included going through a polytechnic course and being assigned both a professional and a pastoral care mentor.

But it was video footage of employees at Russell Group, winner of the skills highway award, that brought tears to those at the awards ceremony.

Cassidy-MacKenzie said the company ran a literacy and numeracy programme which was attended mainly by older Pacific Island men who spoke emotionally about the difference it had made to their lives.

“When we played the video footage to the 500 people who were there on the night, there were tears everywhere.”

Award winners

Supreme award – Jacobs
Tomorrow’s workforce award – Aurecon
Cultural celebration award – Elizabeth Knox Home & Hospital
Empowerment award – Jacobs
Skills highway award – Russell Group
Positive inclusion award – Nirvana Health Group
Divers-ability award – Odyssey
Work life balance award – Andrew.Stewart Ltd
Walk the talk award – Ranjna Patel, NZ Asian Leaders
 
Highly commended awards

Cultural celebration  - Computers in Homes
Skills highway - Carter Holt Harvey Wood Product
Divers-ability - BlastaCars

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