Belonging beyond inclusion

Kate Thomas recently facilitated a hui for D&I leads from Accord signatory firms. Here, she shares what was covered and some of the tips attendees took from the session.

‘How do we get the word out about the Diversity Agenda and get more firms involved?’ was a key question raised by a group of D&I leads from Diversity Agenda Accord signatory firms who came together for an afternoon workshop on Wednesday 1 June, following the Accord Summit held at Parliament.

The aim of the workshop was to share learnings and consider priority areas of focus to continue making progress. Representatives included CEs, HR partners, and Engineering and Architecture practice leads.

A strong connection to the concept of ‘belonging’ over and above ‘inclusion’ – inclusion allows you a voice but belonging ensures you’re heard – was discussed by hui participants as a key theme.

Ensuring work environments encourage women to aspire to top level leadership resonated strongly with participants, as well as ensuring that good internal practices are replicated onsite, with group sentiment indicating this often wasn’t the case.

Participants shared suggestions to help workplaces create a culture that supports D&I and allows initiatives to flourish. These included having an open workplace environment where you truly get to know your people; having design principles aligned with what they’re trying to achieve, and then integrating them into everyday practice: ‘make it part of what you do’.

Larger firms have found that developing executive buy-in and taking the time to set good governance structures has helped.

The challenge of gaining a true understanding of workplace demographics was brought to light, especially in SMEs, where it can be hard to conduct anonymous surveys due to the common assumption that respondents would be identifiable.

To counter this, many in the group suggested that having good discussions with their people helped to provide qualitative insights and created a safe space where people felt comfortable undertaking a survey.

Role analysis – particularly whether a position needed to be full-time – was deemed important as it ensures the broadest-possible pool of candidates. This would also afford those who need to work less than 40 hours per week the same access to a range of positions.

Finally, the group looked at two key areas of focus: stopping the gender pay equity gap, and how to increase Māori inclusion. Discussion of both topics saw some great suggestions, briefly outlined below.

Stopping the gender pay equity gap
• Ensure practices such as equitable grading processes are implemented.
• Make salaries non-negotiable to ensure individuals who are less confident, or feel it would be culturally inappropriate to negotiate, aren’t disadvantaged.
• Undertake remuneration reviews while on parental leave.
• Transparency around remuneration ranges and measuring regularly.

Increasing Māori inclusion
• Ensure role model visibility within organisations (so Māori can see pathways to senior leadership and Māori students see a viable profession open to them).
• Implement systems and policies that enable cultural safety.
• Use te reo in everyday practices.
• Remunerate the value of Te Ao Māori knowledge and its contribution.

Before breaking for networking, the members of the newly formed Diversity Agenda Steering Committee introduced themselves, shared some of their aspirations and heard from the group, which led to good kōrero about the key question posed: how can we get the word out and get more firms involved?

Final feedback from the hui highlighted that attendees saw value in the session and were keen to continue to connect frequently, allowing them to learn from each other and their shared experiences.

If you would like your firm to join the conversation and be a part of the movement for change, please join the Diversity Agenda and sign the Accord.

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