Where are we at, New Zealand?

“It is the responsibility of the people with privilege to drive doing diversity and inclusion well, and not the responsibility of under-represented people” was the message from Rachel Hopkins during the Diversity Agenda hosted ‘Where are we at, New Zealand?’, held at Engineering New Zealand this past week.

This event brought Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley, New Zealand’s foremost demographer, together with Guillermo Merelo and Rachel from Diversity Works to present findings from the latest New Zealand Diversity Survey.

The survey included responses specifically from you, our Diversity Agenda Founding Partners and Change Makers.

Paul highlighted the changing make-up of New Zealand and the impacts that will have on businesses across all demographics.- In the next ten years we’ll see Asian communities outnumbering Māori, there’ll be more over 65s than under 15s, and the majority of New Zealand’s smaller centres will see population stagnation or decline as Auckland will grow to 40% of the total population (with the ‘golden triangle’ of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga making up 50%). And in the next 20 years European/Pākehā will drop from 75% of the population to 66% as New Zealand becomes an increasingly more diverse nation.

As Paul Spoonley explained, for New Zealand businesses it is vital that diversity is addressed now to not only bring equality for employees, but also to avoid being left behind. We’ll begin to see fewer young New Zealanders entering the workforce, more people retiring and more skilled immigrants arriving to cover the shortfall.

Within the engineering and architecture world, there are signs that progress is being made but improvements are needed, particularly within gender. Over 80% of Diversity Agenda respondents identify gender as a major issue, yet a third claim they either do not have or are not aware of gender policies, programmes or initiatives within their organization. However, Diversity Agenda respondents do have a higher percentage of women in leadership roles, than the national average.

Another key focus identified is employees’ wellbeing, particularly when it comes to mental health and stress, and work/life balance – issues which can be a major contributory factor to an effective diversity strategy. 87% of our Diversity Agenda members stated they have either formal policy or a programme/initiative in place for staff wellbeing.

A key take-home of the evening was that it’s going to take confident, capable and inclusive leaders to drive diversity change and make sure all employees are onboard. This is fundamental to future success in a rapidly changing world. And we can all play our part, especially if we’ve come from a place of unrecognised privilege.

You can watch a recording of ‘Where are we at, New Zealand?’ on the Diversity Agenda YouTube channel
A copy of Paul Spoonley’s presentation slides can be downloaded here

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