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Media releases from the EEO Trust 

11th March 2015

Joint Media Release from UN WEPs and the EEO Trust

NZ Business receives prestigious UN Leadership Award

Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston has become one of only five CEOs around the world to be recognised in 2015 by the United Nations (UN) for his progressive approach to workplace diversity and community engagement.

Brewis-Weston, who is only the second New Zealand CEO ever chosen for the honour, received the 2015 Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) CEO Leadership Award at the UN headquarters in New York City on March 10, where Hilary Clinton provided the keynote address.

The WEPs is a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact aimed at empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors.

The UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand works in partnership with the NZ Federation of Business and Professional Women, the Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust (EEO Trust), to encourage NZ businesses to sign on to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).

WEPs NZ chair, Sue Kedgley, says she is delighted to see a New Zealand company and signatory of the NZ Women’s Empowerment Principles, leading the way in gender equity and receiving international recognition for doing so.

“This award will send a clear signal to other businesses that their businesses will only be enhanced if they actively embrace gender equity and employ more women at all levels of their organisation. We congratulate Brewis-Weston and his team at Sovereign for raising the bar and setting the benchmark for leadership on gender equity in the workplace.”

Brewis-Weston joined Sovereign in March 2013 with a clear purpose to “shake up the insurance industry in New Zealand” in gender equity and other areas.

Over the past two years, he has addressed diversity and gender imbalance, established a committee to lead diversity and inclusion initiatives focused on gender balance, cultural diversity, generational diversity, flexible working and support for the LGBTI community.

Some of the resulting successes have included a reduction in the gender pay gap, which is now sitting at 4% (compared to the national average of 9.9%), and an increase in female representation on the executive leadership team, which has grown from 18% in 2010 to 45% in 2014.

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive of the EEO Trust, says that Brewis-Weston’s commitment is inspiring and as a leader who walks the talk on gender diversity, he is a true champion for change. Something that Mr Brewis-Weston himself says is not happening fast enough.

“When the majority of New Zealand’s university graduates are women but only 14% hold directorships in the country’s top 100 companies there is something very wrong.”

On the subject of the much talked about business case for diversity, the evidence from Sovereign is compelling.

“As diversity has increased we’ve enjoyed the benefits of new skills, competencies and experience. We’ve got fresh perspectives that increase our ability to innovate and I’ve seen us become more adaptable and ready for change as a result. The financial services industry is traditional and slow to change. We are showing what is possible by making our workplace more reflective of the real world in terms of age, gender, experience and culture.” Says Brewis-Weston.

Both Cassidy-Mackenzie and WEPs Chair, Sue Kedgley, hope that this success will ripple out, and that over the next few years all New Zealand businesses will signal their commitment to gender equity by signing up to the Women's Empowerment Principles. For more information visit:


About UN WEPs NZ

The WEPs were launched in New Zealand by the Governor-General, the Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae on the 13 February 2012.

There are currently 46 businesses in New Zealand that have committed to embedding WEPs in their organisation and improving gender equity and empowering women in their workplaces.

There are seven key UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, visit 

27th February 2015

Migration and the workplace – is your organisation ready for super diversity?

The recent NZ Statistics announcement that for the sixth month in a row the annual record for a net gain of migrants has been broken and that all 16 regional council areas are projected to increase in population between now and 2028, is further reinforcement that businesses across New Zealand need to get on board with diversity.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says that although we have known for some time that the face of the workforce is changing, now is the time to action on diversity and ensure that our organisations are ready for the future workforce.

“Much of the thinking has already been done on thought diversity, particularly amongst our big businesses and corporate organisations but I would argue that many are yet to take real and sustainable action on diversity. The current migration figures show that whilst New Zealand is already considered a super-diverse country with more ethnicities represented here than countries in the world, we continue to grow and become even more diverse with each passing year”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

“As population growth slows in the longer term and our population continues to age, business leaders would be wise to put in place the mechanisms to support their increasingly diverse workforces. Successful management of diversity is now a bigger priority than ever and will only become more critical to organisational effectiveness”.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive and EEO Trust Chair, Michael Barnett echoes this sentiment saying that business leaders in New Zealand need to walk the talk on Diversity, demonstrating why and how diversity is valued in their organisation.

“Diversity in all its form deserves to be at the table and part of the discussions. It requires strong leadership; leadership that expresses a set of values lived up and down an organisation and not just written in a policy document”.  

The EEO Trust are pleased to offer solutions to what can often seem like a complex problem in terms of how best to manage diversity in your organisation and can support you on your journey whether you are just starting out or a little further down the track. Find out more

Top tips for effective diversity management 

1 Make diversity core business. Research shows increasing organisational diversity results in increased productivity, so it makes sense to think of diversity as a business decision and not just to write it up as a few bullet points in your company’s HR strategy. Make diversity a priority for your business, part of your values or mission statement and bring everyone on the journey with you. 

2 Actively seek out your company’s unconscious bias. Unconscious bias is one of the biggest obstacles you’ll face in creating a diverse workforce so it’s worth spending some time figuring it out and taking steps to address it head on.

3 Let diversity have the deciding vote. You search through hundreds of CVs and eventually narrow it down to a handful of candidates, then you narrow it two and it is almost impossible to decide – either of them could do the job. Choose diversity. Think about which candidate stands out as being different from the rest of your team and choose them. Bringing a different perspective can bring fresh ideas and new solutions.

4 It’s not me, it’s you. Diversity is often framed as being about ‘them’ but in fact it’s all about you. It’s easy to think about diversity as a race issue but it is much broader and will impact the vast majority of employees at some point in their career. In work environments that reject diversity, employees may face bias based on their gender, age, weight, sexuality, skin colour, accent, religious beliefs, education, disability or socio-economic status.

5 Take your measurements. Report your progress. A desire to increase diversity is a greatfirst step but to make it real you need to carry outa stocktake of your current level of workplacediversity (or lack of it), set some goals anddeadlines and then continue to measure your progressagainst those initial results.


For more information contact: 

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive on 0274397458 or

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager on 021 674443

9 December 2014

New Zealand’s diversity report card 2014 – could do better!

Up until now, relatively little has been known about how contemporary New Zealand organisations are responding to a broad range of diversity issues in the workplace. This is why in 2013 the EEO Trust took the step to address this knowledge gap, partnering with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and the NZ Work Research Institute to deliver the first New Zealand Diversity Survey.

EEO Trust Chief Executive, Bev Cassidy Mackenzie says that the New Zealand Diversity Survey (NZDS) was designed to enable a better understanding of the current picture and to establish a benchmark of diversity practices in New Zealand organisations.

“Since the survey began in November 2013, we have canvassed employers from businesses of all shapes and sizes across the country and have collated almost 5000 responses which show that wellbeing, the ageing workforce and flexibility are the most common diversity issues important to all organisations.”

Indeed the same three issues, albeit in a different order of priority depending on organisation size, came out top in all five iterations of the survey conducted over the past year. Other workplace diversity issues of concern are bias, ethnicity, gender, bullying and harassment, and employment transition of younger staff.

For many of these issues, organisations have a policy or programme/initiative in place, particularly for bullying and harassment where more than 80 percent of organisations have a formal policy. However, fewer than 40 percent of organisations have any kind of policy or programme relating to the ageing workforce.

EEO Trust Chairman and Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Michael Barnett says that this is a short sighted approach, especially given that we have one of the highest participation rates for over 65’s in the OECD at 20%.

“As well as our ongoing diversity survey, the EEO Trust has recently undertaken a deep dive to survey and examine attitudes and perceptions of older workers. The findings from this have reinforced the results we have seen through our quarterly dips and enabled us to build a broader picture of organisational preparedness for an ageing workforce”, says Mr. Barnett.

“The research suggests that around 70 per cent of organisations are now supporting older workers already present in the workforce, through the provision of age neutral policies and processes, but there is still a lack of development of age specific policies or pro-active recruitment of workers over the age of 50”.

This is aside from the continued misconceptions around the ability of older workers such as unwillingness to adapt to change, technological disadvantage, slower to learn and more prone to health problems. All of which can be successfully challenged as being based on stereotypes and not on fact.

Flexible work arrangements are often cited as being an age neutral benefit but one that is welcomed by older workers who may choose to work shorter days or condensed hours. The NZDS results show that flexibility including teleworking options were the most common workplace diversity practice, with approximately 60 percent of respondents' organisations having staff members who telework at least one day a week.

The EEO Trust report has highlighted the diversity issues that are perceived as most important for a large and diverse sample of New Zealand organisations, and the initiatives currently in place to address these issues.

This information has not previously been available and will assist the EEO Trust in developing business focused solutions and services that will support organisations to deliver effective diversity and inclusion strategies.

The New Zealand Diversity Survey will continue during 2015, although will move to a more in depth bi-annual survey conducted during April and September with findings subsequently released by the EEO Trust.

To find out more and get involved or to read the full survey reports visit  


8th September

Workplace literacy skills costing New Zealand businesses

International Literacy Day 2014 on the 8th September highlights that across the globe there around 776 million adults that can't write their own name or read a line from a book. This is a basic right to education that richer countries like ours don't have to worry about, right?

Wrong. Internationally benchmarked (OECD - 2006) research shows that about 43% of the New Zealand adult population have less than optimal literacy skills and 51% have less than optimal numeracy skills for a knowledge-based economy. This problem is even more acute in Auckland. Particularly troubling is the high number who don’t have the reading, writing, maths and communication skills they need to be truly effective in the workplace.

Clearly this can be partially attributed to the higher numbers of migrant workers that call Auckland home, many of whom do not speak English as their primary language. However, this figure is exacerbated further by the stark figures that 10,000 New Zealand school leavers each year are leaving with little or no qualifications.

Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Chief Executive, Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says that this is still very much a hidden issue in many organisations and that most employers seem to be unaware of how low levels of workplace literacy affect their business.

“The implications of these young people entering the workforce with no formal training or qualifications to set them off on the right path are far reaching, not only in terms of their value to an organisation but their social wellbeing and economic prosperity for their families, communities and the wider economy”.

Modern workplaces are increasingly complex. They demand high levels of literacy and numeracy competence, for example, to communicate with diverse customer groups and colleagues, to record information using sophisticated computerised tools and machines, to perform accurate calculations quickly and to handle various forms of data.

Cassidy-Mackenzie says that there are multiple benefits of workplace literacy training including long term return on investment. One organisation who have seen the results first hand are the recent winners of the ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2014 Skills Highway Award; the Russell Group.

“The Russell Group understand that a tailored literacy programme can unlock employees’ potential and have a positive impact on business performance. Their Core Strength programme has helped to address fundamental skills gaps in an organisation with high numbers of migrant workers, many of whom have little or no formal education”.

The ever changing and highly demanding nature of the New Zealand construction and related industries requires all people working in it to work to their full potential. Delivering an in-house quality programme utilising a highly experienced team is helping enable The Russell Group to meet their goals of promoting from within, increasing the core skills of its workforce across all job roles and developing the evolving needs of its current and future workforce.

To find out more about literacy training or to read more on the Russell Group’s story visit 

For more information contact:

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager on 021 674443 OR Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive on 027 4397458  

5 September 2014

Unconscious age bias still alive and kicking 

Despite the fact that New Zealand has one of the highest participation rates for workers aged 65+ in the world, when it comes to recruiting and hiring it seems that age more than any other candidate characteristic, tends to bring out unconscious biases and unwarranted assumptions about ability.
Research carried out over the past year, with the Quarterly New Zealand Diversity Survey, has consistently identified ageing as a top diversity issue for over half of New Zealand’s employers. However, it seems that since the first survey was conducted nearly a year ago by the EEO Trust and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, little has changed in terms of businesses preparing to adapt to, manage or support an increasingly ageing workforce.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Michael Barnett says this glacial shift could present problems for business in the face of looming labour shortages and that bold leadership is required to take this important issue to the next level.

“As well as our ongoing diversity survey, the EEO Trust has recently undertaken a deep dive to survey and examine attitudes and perceptions of older workers. The findings from this have reinforced the results we have seen through our quarterly dips and enabled us to build a broader picture of organisational preparedness for an ageing workforce”.

Although the research suggests that 70 per cent of organisations are now supporting older workers already present in the workforce, through the provision of age neutral policies and processes, there is still a gap in pro-active recruitment of workers over the age of 50. Not to mention the perpetuation of misconceptions around older people such as unwillingness to adapt to change, slower to learn and more prone to health problems.

EEO Trust Chief Executive, Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says that although there have been improvements in recent years, employers have a pivotal role to play in debunking myths and negative stereotypes that still seem to plague workers of a certain age.

“We all need to re-programme our thinking around age and the workplace. One of the most commonly held beliefs has been around the perceived lack of computer literacy amongst the older generation, but when you consider the hard facts that anyone in the workplace over the last 20 years is likely to have used a computer, 28 million people over the age of 45 are on Facebook and nearly half of people over the age of 55 have a smartphone; clearly something doesn’t add up”.

Unfortunately, age-based discrimination is still very much alive and well in many workplaces. According to an international survey of HR directors and executives carried out by KPMG earlier this year, there is a ‘silent tipping point’ at which employees are seen to have less value, and become less attractive to the organisation. When asked at what age this tipping point occurs, more than half said 50 years old, while more than a third said 60.

Cassidy-Mackenzie says that in her role as Chief Executive and particularly as a judge for the ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ, she has come across countless examples where far from being at the end of their usefulness as an employee, older workers have been the lifeblood of an organisation.

“The winner of this year’s Positive Inclusion Award, Nirvana Healthcare Group are a great example of an employer who embrace age and reap the benefits of everything that mature workers bring to the workforce. One particular employee is 78 years young and still works as a practice nurse with a career spanning 61 years. She doesn’t see her age as any barrier to her being able to fulfil her role and feels her service is valued and respected more as a result of her experience and loyalty,” she says.

“Another of this year’s winning organisations, Andrew.Stewart Ltd who took out the prize for Work Life Balance, recruited an employee who was not only approaching 60 but had recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, despite all the apparent barriers to her employment, this company looked at the skills and experience of this individual and still considered her be a considerable asset to the team and the business”.

The world has changed. Gone are the days when an employee would reach 60 and shuffle off to tend to their garden or play golf, living out their days on a tidy retirement package. There are multiple reasons why people are working longer and this currently under utilised talent pool have much left to give and to gain from being an active part of the workforce.

For more information contact:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive on 0274397458 or

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager on 021 674443

27th August 2014

Jacobs Diversity Committee produces winning results

For the 17th year in a row the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust is once again proud to celebrate the fantastic organisations across New Zealand who are leading the way in workplace diversity.

The ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2014, included additional categories this year so that more businesses than ever before could be recognised for their workplace initiatives and programmes. There was also a measurable increase in the number and quality of entries which EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie believes is a positive reflection of how much the diversity landscape has changed in recent years.

“In a country with immigration as its backbone diversity is in New Zealand’s DNA. Businesses are clearly learning how to make the most of a diverse workforce and the benefits of building an inclusive culture. With 213 different ethnicities, cultural differences are part of New Zealand society and our work environments need to be open to those differences.”

Inclusivity means many different things to different people; to this year’s Supreme Award Winner, Jacobs, it means welcoming and respecting the varied backgrounds, talents, skills and experience of all employees. For them it is a value that is woven through a culture of caring, enabling them to be an engaged, committed and productive company that produces positive results for staff, clients and stakeholders.

As well as taking away the Supreme Award, Jacobs were also the recipient of the Empowerment Award for their work in fostering greater gender equity across the Engineering Consulting business.

Traditionally, engineering and science professions have tended to be dominated by men and whilst this trend has shifted somewhat in recent years, with more female graduates coming through the ranks, the number of women in senior technical roles remains low.

As part of an expanding global organisation, Jacobs New Zealand has responded to this by integrating new approaches from the wider business world with a strong emphasis on networking and inclusion.

Cassidy-Mackenzie who was also a judge in the Awards process says Jacobs are a very worthy winner of both the Empowerment and Supreme Award in 2014.

“They are clearly demonstrating their commitment to diversity within their organisation and are positively influencing the landscape for female engineering and science graduates in New Zealand”

The Award categories and winners

  • 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 Award winners

  • Cultural Celebration Award - Computers in Homes
  • Skills Highway Award - Carter Holt Harvey
  • Divers-ability - BlastaCars

For more information or comment contact:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, or 0274397458


Emma Edgar, Communications Manager, or 021 674443

19 August 2014

Talent pipeline is the key to correcting gender balance

Building a talent pipeline that fosters talented young women from early on in their careers is the key to gender balance at the most senior levels, according to EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie.

Cassidy-Mackenzie’s comments follow this week’s release of figures showing only 11% of directors at NZX-listed companies are women. For the companies that provided information in the latest quarter there were 183 male directors which compared with 22 female directors.

In senior management roles women accounted for just 22% of all positions.

“We can’t expect to see gender balance in senior roles unless we develop a talent pipeline much earlier on. The current approach is ‘too little, too late’.”

“Developing individuals in the early stages of their career ensures they will be ready to step into those mid-tier management roles and from there they can develop the experience they will need for senior management roles and, eventually, the director roles.”

EEO Trust is launching their “Introduction to the Talent Pipeline” workshop series this year with complimentary briefing sessions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in October and November.

“These sessions will give companies a starting point for assessing how they are currently fostering talent and some first steps to take toward ensuring they have a strong, balanced senior leadership team.”

“We will also be sharing case studies from our EEO members who are succeeding in empowering their talent and reaping the rewards.”

Mackenzie adds that while quotas have been introduced in some countries, many organisations have been successful in increasing the number of women in senior roles by setting their own company targets.

“If the drive to improve the gender balance comes from inside the organisation it is likely there will be a much stronger engagement with it. When companies set their own targets and make them a part of their reporting, they also tend to implement other initiatives to support these goals so you see targeted training opportunities and mentoring programmes being developed."

For more information or comment please contact:

EEO Trust chief executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie
09 580 4442

Notes for editors:

NZX Gender Diversity Statistics (2nd Quarter 2014)

1 July 2014

Judging underway to find winning workplaces

For the 17th year in a row the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust is once again excited by the entries that have come flooding in from organisations across New Zealand, keen to have their workplace diversity successes recognised and celebrated. 

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, says that the number and quality of entries this year is a positive reflection of how the diversity landscape has changed and become a more accepted part of the business environment.

“Since the awards programme began in 1997, we have had nearly 600 entries from organisations of all shapes and sizes and this year I’m delighted to report that we have seen an increase of just over 20% across the board with entries well above our annual average”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.  

In 2013 the awards underwent a rebrand with a new name, look and feel to more accurately represent the diversity of the New Zealand workforce.

“This year we have gone one step further by adding additional categories and aligning our awards programme with our diversity platforms better than ever before”.

So what makes this awards event stand out from the crowd? Cassidy-Mackenzie says it’s because this awards is about celebrating organisations and people who embrace the whole person that comes into the workplace.

A perfect example of this recognition that people are the key to success for any organisation, are the winners of last year’s ANZ Supreme Award, the New Zealand Defence Force with their LGBTQI inclusion programme - OverWatch.

An article in last week’s Herald highlighted the Ministry of Defence as being one of the “worst offenders” amongst the public service with a 42 per cent pay gap between the genders according to findings from the Human Rights Commission’s report into gender pay inequality in the public service.

Whilst the EEO Trust would not seek to defend any such inequality, we publicly support the New Zealand Defence Forces efforts to promote a more inclusive culture within their workforce and believe they set a precedent for not only the Ministry of Defence and other public sector organisations in this country but around the world. 

Since taking away the top prize at the ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2013, the NZDF have received international acclaim for their OverWatch programme and even ranked number one in the World LGBTI Military Index earlier this year.

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Assistant Chief of Personnel, Brigadier Howard Duffy, says organisations have an ethical responsibility to support all people regardless of their sexual identity - an area that the NZDF recognised there was room for improvement in.

“Being recognised by the EEO Trust and winning the Supreme Award acknowledges the great work of NZDF and the continued commitment of OverWatch in ensuring that our LGBTQI community feel supported and empowered to be themselves.”

“Being involved in these awards further increased the positive public profile of the NZDF, and of OverWatch, and highlights our commitment to being a supportive, inclusive and modern military force”.

The ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2014 winners will be announced at the celebration gala dinner at The Langham Hotel on 27th August.

To find out more and secure your early bird tickets visit


The Award categories

The Awards judges

The Awards sponsors

For more information contact:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, or 0274397458


Emma Edgar, Communications Manager, or 021 674443

28th May 2014 

Being inclusive shouldn’t be exclusive

There is no doubt that New Zealand’s employers have embraced the concept of workplace diversity over the past few years and that many are putting in place the policies to promote equality and diversity within their business, but unless more focus is put on inclusion in the workplace, all their efforts may be in vain. 

The latest round of the EEO Trust and Auckland Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Diversity Survey, identified that two thirds of organisations have neither a formal policy or programme in place to deal with workplace issues related to religion, personal beliefs, lifestyle or sexuality of employees.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says that creating an inclusive working environment is about more than just giving people equal opportunities to jobs. It is about embracing the “whole person” in the workplace and employers allowing people to be themselves - valuing difference not sameness.

“An inclusive culture can have a number of knock on benefits. It’s a simple equation but if employees feel valued they are more likely to add value in return, seeing increased productivity and bottom lines”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

At its most basic level it is about ensuring that no one feels excluded because of their age, gender, race, nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities or social background.

Michael Barnett, Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive and EEO Trust Chairman says that to achieve true inclusion in the workplace, we need to consider the needs of the unique individuals who make up an organisation and in a multi-cultural society such as ours this can be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. 

“We all want to feel included, to be part of something, to contribute to the bigger picture but we cannot achieve this on our own”.

It is said that along with love, work is one of the constants in all our lives and an experience that unifies us across timeframes and cultures, perhaps it’s high time that employers embraced this fact.


Notes for editors:

The research partnership between the EEO Trust, Auckland Chamber of Commerce and AUT University is part of a wider programme of research activity being undertaken by AUT University’s New Zealand Work Research Institute.

The Quarterly Diversity Survey series for 2014 will continue in August and November as well as a specific study examining organisational attitudes and practices in relation to older workers to be conducted in late June.

To learn more about the work of the EEO Trust and the support available to help employers with workplace diversity visit

For media assistance contact:

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager, or 021 674443


19th May 2014

More flexible leave rules will be a game changer 

Last week’s budget announcement to boost the Government’s paid parental leave scheme is about more than just a few extra dollars in people’s pockets, says EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie.  

The increase in paid parental leave although not unexpected is of course a welcome additional allowance for working parents along with the changes in paid leave for carers, and more flexibility around eligibility criteria.  

For employers, one key advantage of this flexibility is that it will enable an employee on parental leave to return to work for an occasional day or attend staff events such as planning days and training.

Cassidy-Mackenzie says there are huge benefits to be gained from this and advises that businesses should invest the time and effort to keep the lines of communication open when employees are absent on parental leave. 

There is currently a disconnect in the way parental leave is managed, with most employers meeting their statutory obligations but then waving their employee off and 12 months later expecting them to pick up where they left off.

“This period of time away from the workplace can cause significant feelings of isolation and disengagement for the employee. Managers have a responsibility to properly transition returning staff and I think these new flexible provisions will help make this easier for both parties”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.  

A recent Ernst & Young report put economic losses across Australia and New Zealand as a result of mothers leaving the workforce at a phenomenal $9.64 billion.

With such high stakes, this recent development is a positive step towards a future model where more employers retain talented female staff and encourage women to return to their roles following a period of parental leave and that can only be a good thing for everyone. 


For media assistance contact:

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager, or 021 674443


10 April 2014

17 years of celebrating workplace diversity

Is your organisation a model of productivity and employee engagement?  Do you have a great story to tell about your workplace efforts to encourage diversity? 

Entries are now open for the EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2014, a not to be missed opportunity for employers to showcase how they value and nurture their most valuable asset - their employees.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says that there have been so many inspirational stories shared on this platform over the years and each year brings renewed celebration.

During the event’s history there have been forward thinking flexible work programmes,  anti bullying initiatives, literacy and numeracy training programmes and recruiting strategies to encourage diversity, amongst the success stories shared.

“We all want our businesses to be successful, and people are the key to that success. This Awards ceremony is about celebrating those people and the organisations who embrace the whole person in the workplace,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

“It’s clear that if people are encouraged to make the most of their abilities and balance their responsibilities at work and at home, they’ll be better engaged and more committed employees. The positive impact of this for employers is that they will get more of that magic workplace ingredient – extra productivity.”

The EEO Trust welcomes entries from all organisations, from any sector across New Zealand and invites you to share your diversity stories and benchmark your organisation against others. Previous entrants to the awards have found a number of positive benefits in taking part including an increased profile, a free diversity health check and being seen as an Employer of Choice.

This year there are eight categories with a Supreme Winner being chosen from the winners of each category, so more opportunities than ever before to share the successes of your workplace diversity programmes or initiatives.

So what are you waiting for? Entries for the EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2014 close on Friday June 20th, with the Awards gala dinner taking place in Auckland on August 27th.  

To find out more, to download an application form or to see the stories of past winners visit


The Award categories

  • Tomorrow’s Workforce Award
  • Cultural Celebration Award
  • Empowerment Award
  • Skills Highway Award
  • Positive Inclusion Award
  • Divers-ability Award
  • Work Life Balance Award
  • Walk the Talk Award

For more information:

Emma Edgar, Communications Manager, or 021 674443

11 March 2014

Employers need to act to avoid losing good people

An increasingly age diverse workforce is becoming a reality and a diversity focus for organisations across New Zealand. As we face a looming labour shortage ageing workers, youth and migrants will become a key target for businesses to recruit and retain.

The latest Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Quarterly Diversity Survey identified ageing as a top diversity matter for over half of New Zealand’s employers with almost two thirds of organisations seeming unprepared to manage or support an ageing workforce.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says the survey tells us that as well as ageing, New Zealand’s employers are concerned with balancing the needs of a diverse workforce including those coming into the workplace for the first time.

 “With an ageing population and shifting expectations for the age of retirement, we really need to understand why we’re currently overlooking this rich talent pool, what perceptions are driving this and how we can look to change it,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

 “Employers need to consider both the business benefits of retaining older workers such as less churn and loss of skills/ knowledge, but also what the drivers are for this group. Research tells us that if you look after your staff and put in place appropriate support mechanisms such as flexible working arrangements or health and wellbeing programmes, that you will see increased retention not to mention productivity and performance.”

Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Michael Barnett, says another strong response to the survey shows New Zealand companies are serious about understanding the level of diversity in their business and seeing how they compare to the wider workforce.

 “More people are recognising that diversity has come out of the HR office and is something that needs to be part of routine behaviours in the workplace. This country is facing a labour shortage and every business is going to need to address skills shortages if they aren’t already. Embracing diversity makes good business sense. It means having access to talent across all demographics and the competitive edge to address the skills shortage head-on.”  Says Barnett.

AUT University’s Professor Tim Bentley, who heads up the EEO Trust diversity research, says bias was also highlighted as an area of concern for 39% of businesses. This is a significant increase on the first diversity survey run in 2013 and demonstrates that there is a growing awareness of the conscious and unconscious bias that impacts decision making in all organisations.

AUT University’s partnership with the EEO Trust and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce will see researchers explore several other areas in 2014 including a study examining organisational attitudes and practices in relation to older workers and research into the management of workplace bullying and harassment.

To learn more about the work of the EEO Trust and the support available to help your organisations’ diversity journey visit

For media assistance contact:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, Equal Employment Opportunities Trust,

0274 397 458

(09) 580 4440

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce

0275 631 150

(09) 302 9916

27th January 2014 

Helping employees rediscover their mojo in 2014

Whether a return to work was a welcome break from the chaos of home life or a dreaded end to a beautiful holiday, getting back into the swing of things after a prolonged break can be hard work and a fact which many employers will be only too aware of.

With Christmas and the New Year feeling like a distant memory and another public holiday on the horizon, the first couple of months of the year are likely to be a rollercoaster in terms of employee engagement and motivation.

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive Equal Employment Opportunities Trust, says research tells us only 30% of managers make a special effort to motivate their staff after the holidays despite over half of employees agreeing it is difficult to get into gear.

“This is an equation that does not add up, especially in terms of outputs for business. There are a number of simple measures that management can put in place to help invigorate employees and enable them to rediscover their focus, ultimately resulting in increased productivity and staff retention”, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

“Recognising the need for work/life balance is key to helping people adjust to being back in a work routine. Where possible discuss staff needs and provide support to enable them to do their job in the best way to get the outcomes that suit them and the organisation”.

It comes as no surprise that a big driver for employee satisfaction and engagement is a flexible employer. The provision of such initiatives as working from home or the ability to adjust working hours to fit around personal commitments such as childcare during the school holidays, will make a huge difference to employees overall motivation”.

Cassidy-Mackenzie goes on to say that the Trust’s recent quarterly diversity results show how the opportunity to work flexibly in this way can result in more contented staff, encourage autonomy, and build trust and intrinsic motivation across an organisation.

“Around 59% of those EEO member organisations surveyed recognise the benefits of flexible working arrangements for staff recruitment, retention, empowerment and engagement with the important net benefits of improved productivity or performance”, she says.

Encouraging employees to set goals and identify training opportunities or holding team events to ensure everyone has a shared sense of purpose early on, will also go a long way to achieving positive employee engagement throughout the year.

Learn more about employee engagement as a strategic priority and its direct correlation with performance as well finding out what it means to be an EEO employer 


For media assistance please contact:

Emma Edgar, EEO Trust Communications Manager

09 5804447 or 021 364447

25th November, 2013

Workplace Diversity Results

Managing an aging workforce has emerged as the leading issue for New Zealand’s larger companies while wellbeing and flexibility are the top concerns for the country’s small and medium organisations, according to the first EEO Trust Quarterly Diversity Survey.

The survey, carried out by AUT University’s New Zealand Work Research Institute, attracted over 1460 respondents and has been developed to provide a benchmark for diversity in New Zealand workplaces.

EEO Trust chief executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says the strong response to the survey which included Auckland Chamber of Commerce members shows New Zealand companies are serious about understanding the level of diversity in their business and seeing how they compare to the wider workforce.

“To make progress in achieving a workforce that more accurately reflects the demographics of the population – in terms of age, ethnicity, gender or disability – we need to know what it is about diversity that our companies are grappling with. We’re undertaking this survey series so we can take stock and then support companies to make changes that will broaden the talent pool they’re working with.” says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

“The fact that smaller companies have highlighted wellbeing and flexibility shows that it might be the mechanisms that support diversity that are presenting obstacles.”

Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Michael Barnett, says the results highlight the different issues that small and large organisations grapple with.

“For example, ethnicity, gender, bias and bullying and harassment were of notably greater concern for large organisations than for small organisations.”

AUT University’s Professor Tim Bentley, who is heading the EEO Trust diversity research, says bias was highlighted as an area of concern for 31% of all small and medium companies while almost half of all large organisations (48%) identified bias as an issue.

The survey also highlighted some shortcomings in the level of policy in place to address diversity issues.

Despite aging being identified as the top issue among larger companies, over 60% of organisations have neither a policy or programme in place to manage or support an aging workforce.

“With an aging population and shifting expectations for the age of retirement, we really need to understand why we’re overlooking this rich talent pool and what perceptions are driving this and then we can look at how to change it,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie.

Generally, less than half of responding organisations have a policy in place to address each of the various diversity issues. The exception are the issues of bullying and harassment, where 60% of organisations have a policy in place. Policy specific to disability was in place for 45% of survey respondents. 

“However, for most diversity issues, over half of the organisations had either a policy or an initiative in place, indicating that they are taking steps to address these issues,” says Professor Bentley. 

The Quarterly Diversity Survey will be repeated in February, May and August next year.

AUT University’s partnership with the EEO Trust and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce will see researchers explore several other areas in 2014 including a gender and leadership study and research into the management of workplace bullying and harassment.

Notes for editors:
The research partnership between EEO Trust and AUT University is part of a wider programme of research activity being undertaken by AUT University’s New Zealand Work Research Institute. The Future of Work Programme involves collaboration between the New Zealand Work Research Institute’s specialist research groups and a large network of internal and external partners. The programme is a truly multidisciplinary initiative, bringing together expertise in employment relations, employment law, labour market economics, ICT, industrial and organisational psychology, human resource management, occupational health and safety, tourism and hospitality, and ergonomics.

Diversity by numbers

  • 1468 NZ companies responded to the first Quarterly Diversity Survey
  • Wellbeing was the top concern for small (48%) and medium (55%) companies
  • Aging was the top issue for large organisations (63%)
  • Flexibility was an issue for nearly half of all respondents
  • Ethnicity, gender and bias, bullying and harassment was more of an issue for large companies
  • There are serious gaps in diversity policy – less than 50% of respondents had policies in place to address each of the diversity issues with the exception of bullying and harassment

Media contacts:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, Equal Employment Opportunities Trust,

0274 397 458

(09) 580 4440

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce

0275 631 150

(09) 302 9916

Prof Tim Bentley, AUT University

021 814 501

(09) 921 9999 x5446

13th November 2013

Worker exploitation cases damaging NZ equal employment record

Exploitation of migrant workers is a black mark on New Zealand’s standing as a fair country that strives to provide equal opportunities, says EEO Trust chief executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie.  

“We’re a country that prides itself on being fair and honest so we need to speak up when we see those standards being compromised in our workplaces.”

In a case publicised last week, an Auckland-based Korean food-preparation factory is alleged to have exploited migrant workers with 16-hour working days with few or no breaks, below minimum wages and no employment contracts.

“It is really important that when abuses against migrant workers are identified, such as those alleged against a North Shore factory last week, the agencies that respond make it extremely clear these abuses of basic rights will not be tolerated.”

“We want all migrant workers to understand their basic rights as employees in New Zealand. We understand it can be frightening to speak out against these abuses but New Zealand cannot be a country that tolerates worker exploitation.”

Information on basic employment rights, including annual leave, break entitlements, minimum wages and NZ work entitlements, is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website   

Cassidy-Mackenzie says while the exploitation in the recent case involved serious employment breaches, there are more subtle exploitations and discriminations taking place in workplaces around the country.

“English-only language policies in workplaces, or job advertisements that specify applicants must have English as their first language or racial slurs – all of these are infringements on an individual’s basic rights.”

“On a human rights level, each case of worker exploitation or abuse is saddening and it has a knock-on effect for families and communities. On an employment rights level, it is a business issue and it is the responsibility of every organisation to ensure they are meeting the basic rights of each of their employees.”

For more information please contact:

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, Chief Executive, EEO Trust 0274 397 458

Media Release - 19th September

120 years but a long way to go

Today New Zealand celebrates 120 years of women winning the right to vote and it is an opportunity for this country to celebrate equality at work.

The chief executive of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust says women’s suffrage day is a time for all organisations and businesses to endorse gender equity in the workforce, but there is still a long way to go.

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie says women make up half of our population and are high achievers at school and in tertiary studies but she questions why that doesn’t continue in senior managerial roles and around boardroom tables.

“Recent figures on reported gender diversity on boards of our listed companies show just eight percent of directors are women.”

Last year the NZX introduced a rule requiring companies with a gender equity policy to include a gender breakdown of directors and senior managers in their annual report.

Mrs Cassidy-Mackenzie says 110 local companies come under this rule and of the companies that reported gender diversity there were 205 male directors and 18 female.

“This appears to be a drop compared to 2012 Census on Women’s Participation that showed women directors of the top 100 companies had reached more than 14 percent.”

She is urging all businesses to focus on diversity by having a career pipeline available for EVERY employee, and implement a gender diversity policy.

“It is also disappointing to see that about 23 percent of senior managers are women, when it should be much higher. Success comes from focusing on people’s differences rather than similarities and I hope all organisations start making positive changes now.”

Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie is a judge in the UN Aotearoa Women’s Empowerment Principles White Camellia Awards which will tonight applaud businesses that are endorsing gender equity.

To see the stats on 120 years of suffrage click here.

Defence Force takes top prize in Diversity Awards

The New Zealand Defence Force’s OverWatch programme entry into this year’s ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards focuses on investing resources and time into ensuring employees with different lifestyles and gender identity obtain the right support and understanding throughout the armed forces.

The program was initiated by personnel within the armed forces who valued the support those with different lifestyles required.  It was quickly endorsed by military leaders as a vital part of backing the wellbeing of its people, irrespective of being a uniformed or civilian staff.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Chief Executive, Beverley Cassidy-MacKenzie, who was one of the five judges says OverWatch provides resources for personnel for example those who are questioning their own sexuality and are seeking advice.

“It also educates Defence Force leaders about different lifestyles to increase understanding throughout the armed forces.”

 Mrs Cassidy Mackenzie says the programme is now shared among international allied forces via NATO and those serving offshore can access the support group and get assistance wherever they are serving in the world.

Category Winners of the ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards NZ 2013 

Supreme Award - NZ Defence Force.  OverWatch

Tomorrow’s Workforce Award – Ministry of Social Development, WINZ cadet programme

Highly Commended - NZ Defence Force. LSV.

Diversity Award – NZ Defence Force.  OverWatch (and Supreme Award)

Work & Life Award – Coca-Cola Amatil

Skills Highway Award – Pacific Homecare

Walk the Talk Award – Peter Potaka, Statistics NZ

The following is a brief description of the categories in the ANZ and EEO Trust Diversity Awards 2013

Tomorrow's Workforce Award, which recognises innovative responses to tomorrow's employment challenges.

Diversity Award, for organisations that make the most of employee diversity.

Work & Life Award, which celebrates initiatives that create opportunities for greater engagement and productivity in a workplace.

Skills Highway Award, which recognises workplaces which can show how they have helped improve their employees' reading, maths and communication skills.

Walk the Talk Award, which celebrates effective workplace diversity leaders.

 29 August 2013

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