February 15, 2017

Employers see a plus in diversity

Published in the NZ Herald

Employers are increasingly taking advantage of the diversity of their workforce to access opportunities in new markets, according to recent research.

To mark its launch, organisation Super Diverse Women commissioned a survey of almost 300 New Zealanders to assess their experiences of discrimination and diversity in New Zealand and in the workforce.

The survey, independently conducted by Pauline Colmar one of the founders of Colmar Brunton, found half of those surveyed wanted different services and products compared with the rest of the population.

Organisation chairwoman Mai Chen said it was important to cater to this growing market.

Almost 50 per cent of the talent pool in Auckland are migrants or their New Zealand born children according to Chen, who said it was important employers reflected this.

“The employers perspective is huge and we’re helping a lot of employers who are seeing a complete transformation of the talent pool,” Chen said.

“For them, it’s about recruiting the right talent because you need to recruit from the market to service the market and as the talent pool has changed, so has the customer pool.”

Diversity Works New Zealand chief executive Bev Cassidy-MacKenzie said the conversation was moving away from creating a diverse workforce towards using the diversity within the existing workforce.

“Employers are taking a positive look at this and taking advantage of what they already have,” Cassidy-MacKenzie said.

“A lot of these organisations have already got this workforce sitting within their workplace, and there’s a real opportunity to take advantage of what you already have,” she said.

“A lot of organisations are already seeing positive outcomes from this.”

Cassidy-MacKenzie said organisations that didn’t utilise diversity risked missing out on the competitive advantage from this.

A number of organisations had already been working towards more diverse and inclusive workplaces, including insurance company nib. Chief executive Rob Hennin said

“We have about 180 or 190 staff here in New Zealand and over 20 nationalities, and around 60 per cent of our leadership team are women,” Hennin said.

“So naturally we’re very interested in diversity and what it brings to our culture, but we also know that diversity makes a huge difference to the creativity within a company, to the problem solving and to making the environment your staff work in a good one.”

According to Hennin, it was not just about leveraging diversity but about recognising that the company needed to do what was right for its customers, commercial partners, suppliers and stakeholders.

He said it was important to try to make sure the company was as relevant as possible to its audience.