EEO/diversity strategies encourage respect between employers and employees. This often results in increased loyalty and engagement. As well as improving productivity, EEO can provide a better return on skills investment and maximise organisational knowledge.
For example, flexible working practices at ANZ National Bank mean that 83% of employees who return from parental leave now stay for more than 12 months, well above the bank's target of 50%. The average length of staff service at the bank is now eight years. Sick leave, absenteeism and turnover have all decreased.
Flexibility is a business imperative
A positive approach to diversity has resulted in substantial benefits for Mount Albert Pak 'n Save. Low staff turnover saves the supermarket approximately $100,000 per annum.
New immigrants pack in hours and save turnover
A commitment to training and leadership development dramatically improved retention and engagement among NZSki's mainly seasonal workers. Retention nearly doubled from the traditional 30% to nearly 60%.
Much more than a one-season wonder
EEO/diversity practices can help ensure workplaces effectively tap into the diverse talent pool, hiring and engaging people with the skills and commitment they need to prosper in difficult economic conditions.
For example, a range of diversity initiatives introduced by Beca Transportation prove that cultural diversity is both a competitive advantage and a sustainable way to grow a company. Traffic engineers are thin on the ground in New Zealand and overseas so Beca Transportation created a workplace of choice for immigrating traffic engineers. Beca's creative approach to recruiting and retaining skilled migrants enabled it to grow by 30% in one year at a time when similar organisations were losing staff to their competitors.
Beca becomes migrants' employer of choice
EEO/diversity practices acknowledge people as a critical strategic asset. A multi-skilled and versatile workplace is engaged, open to change and innovative.
Recognising the communication challenges amongst its diverse team, many of whom are new to New Zealand, Snap Fresh Foods initiated a literacy and numeracy programme which has improved productivity and substantially reduced wastage.
Improved communication ramps up productivity
Wellington-based web company Springload combines flexibility, fun and a hugely supportive culture to recruit and engage people who are passionate about web design. Co-owner Bron Thomson says the Springload team works hard and is incredibly talented. "We know that the effort we put into recruitment and making Springload a great place to work pays off. Because we go the extra mile, the team will usually go an extra three if needed."
Hacky sacks keep web world alive
Versatile workplaces which offer flexible working options, create a positive workplace culture and support and reward employees on the basis of merit, experience lower absenteeism.
Cardinal Logistics embarked on a three-pronged culture change programme to upskill and engage staff in its rapidly growing business. As a result, customer satisfaction is up, absenteeism is down and staff morale is high. One employee wrote, "I feel better coming to work now as it has given me more confidence learning new skills."
A triple dose of the good stuff
EEO/diversity practices often improve staff satisfaction and morale, as well as sales and performance.
For example, EasiYo Products taps the experience of its diverse staff to help it meet international market standards and tastes. As CEO Paul O'Brien says, "We send our product around the world, so why not have people from around the world working here?"
Making yoghurt a global affair
For Sheraton Auckland Hotel & Towers, employing staff from a wide range of international backgrounds provides a valuable translation resource on tap for guests.
Staff from diverse backgrounds valuable resource for hotel
EEO and effective diversity management can be powerful tools to help business effectively recruit and manage people who can attract new customers. Diversity in the workforce reflects an increasingly diverse customer base.
For example, Christchurch firm GPC Electronics wouldn't exist without the specialist skills and cultural awareness contributed by its staff, many of whom come from its key export markets in the Netherlands, the UK, the Middle East, China and Malaysia.
Christchurch electronics firm taps skills of new migrants
Workplace discrimination, stress and inadequate training can all result in health and safety issues. EEO and work-life initiatives aim to create a healthy work environment which supports people at work and outside work.
For example, New Zealand's largest workplace literacy and numeracy programme in tandem with safety training has cut workplace accidents at Downer EDI Works. General Human Resources Manager Chris Meade says the two programmes complement each other. "It's clear that when employees have the literacy, language and numeracy skills to take full advantage of improvements in safety practice, the business and community benefits from a reduction in on-site accidents."
Infrastructure experts build literacy skills on the job
At Hamilton City Council, a week-long focus on health and wellness at the beginning of 2011 made a substantial dent in the post-holiday accident rate.
Cutting the accident tally
Workplaces that have adopted EEO and are committed to practices that encourage diversity are seen as good corporate citizens or "Employers of Choice". Doing the right thing with the right people for the right reasons often translates to higher productivity and improved return on investment, as well as better customer relations.
Accountancy firm BDO Taranaki has found that its commitment to flexible working practices has built its reputation for innovation and integrity amongst staff and customers. Says Practice Manager Margaret Doyle, "One new client recently told us that she chose us as her business adviser because she had heard so much about our culture and flexibility that she just knew she wanted to work with us."
Accountants prove that flexibility pays