3 organisations who are getting diversity right

Looking for strategies to increase gender diversity in your workplace? Take inspiration from these three organisations that are leading the way.

Click on the careers page of most large organisations and you’re sure to see a section on the topic of workplace diversity. It's a term that has become something of a buzzword with more and more organisations espousing a commitment to getting it right.

Some organisations are clearly putting their words into action. Here are three that are leading the way by closing the gender pay gap, normalising flexibility and taking a rather unorthodox approach to boosting diversity among its recruits.

Everyone’s welcome

Police New Zealand

New Zealand’s police force became known as an amusing – and diverse - team of crime fighters when the video it launched in November went viral. Within a week of the video being posted on the NZ Police Recruitment Facebook page, the two-and-a-half minute clip had reached more than 14 million people around the world with its comedic take on law enforcement.

“Recruitment videos can be run-of-the-mill, but not this one,” says Kaye Ryan, Deputy Chief Executive - People at NZ Police. “It’s fun and fast-paced. We deliberately set out to create a video that prompted repeat viewing and we are pleased to have seen application numbers increasing since its launch in November.”

Ryan explains that increasing its overall police staff numbers over the next three years will help meet its objective of being the safest country in the world. “This includes ensuring we have more women, Māori, Pacific Islanders and people from all other ethnicities and backgrounds to better reflect the communities we serve.”

New Zealand Police has set an ambitious target 50% female recruits among its more than 11,900 staff by 2021. “We have made significant progress in recent years toward this - 2015 was the first year where a third of recruits were women – but we still have a way to go in order to meet that target of 50%,” says Ryan.

Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct highlighted a need to better recruit, develop and support women and ethnic minority staff. Releasing the self-described ‘World’s Most Entertaining Police Recruitment Video’ was part of the strategy.

In addition to the recruitment video, New Zealand Police held its first Women’s Recruitment Day at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua in December last year. In 2016, it celebrated 75 years of women in policing with a number of events across the country, including a parade through the streets of Wellington.

A number of female officers have also been profiled on TVNZ’s ‘Women in Blue’ program in an effort to showcase the value on gender diversity in NZ Police.

“We also have a number of initiatives within the organisation to support our women and enable them to take on a number of different opportunities,” says Ryan.

One of these is the Women’s Advisory Network (WAN), which operates at district and national levels to foster women's development across the force. “The WAN is an inclusive environment that supports women in reaching their full potential, whatever the path may be.”

Flexibility for all

ANZ Bank

If any business is aware of the financial benefits of diversity, it’s surely a bank. However, this is one topic that Felicity Evans, ANZ’s head of HR in New Zealand, is tired of discussing.

“I’m so bored of talking about the business case for diversity,” she says. “I just think that if people don’t get it by now, they need to get over themselves. Change just has to happen and my attitude toward gender diversity is, if not, why not?”

This attitude can be found right across the bank. While ANZ once had “a disproportionate number” of women in leadership roles among its close to 9,000 employees in New Zealand, Evans explains the number is at 41% today and that this comes down to a multi-pronged to increase diversity.

Initiatives include a gender-equal split on shortlists during recruitment and a ‘Plus One’ pledge, which is a commitment introduced in 2013 by people leaders within the organisation to increase the number of women in their teams by at least one member as roles become available.

Evans adds that one its most effective diversity initiatives has been the introduction of the bank’s ‘all roles flex’ policy at the beginning of 2015.

“Every role in the organisation has an ability to be flexible,” she says. “If you make that your starting position, you open up opportunities for those that really need flexibility. It changes the power balance because people don’t worry about having to apply for flexible conditions, they know that it’s always available to them.”

Closing the gap

Lion

When New Zealand’s largest alcohol beverage company, Lion, decided to measure its gender pay gap in mid-2016, something wasn’t adding up. Like so many organisations across the country – and the world – there was a disparity between the salary of its male and female employees. The company took immediate action and its 3.2% gender pay gap was closed before the end of that year.

Lion’s NZ People and Culture Director, Robin Davies, says getting buy-in from the company’s executive team was easy and essential. “Closing the gender pay gap tied in closely with our values of doing the right thing and being courageous,” she says. “There was a general consensus that, yes, it was going to be expensive, but it was the right thing to do.”

On the first day of the new Financial Year in October 2016, a significant number of Lion employees received one-off salary adjustments. In New Zealand, 59% of them were women. Davies explains that closing the pay gap was just one step on the company’s path toward diversity and inclusion among its 1,000 employees across New Zealand, 43% of whom are women.

“Our target is to have a 50:50 split by 2026,” says Davies. “We also have gender-balanced interview panels where possible and unconscious bias training. We relaunched our flexibility policy in 2016 and all conversations around flexibility now begin with a ‘yes’. As of December that year, 42% of our people in New Zealand were working flexibly. We consider that to be a big achievement.”

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