31 August, 2012
ANZ NZ and EEO Trust Work and Life Awards
E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa. Ka nui te honore ki te mihi ki a koutou.
Thank you Michael for your warm welcome. I am delighted to have been asked to address you tonight and to take part in the Work and Life Awards 2012 presentation.
I wish to acknowledge Michael Barnett, Chair EEO Trust, Board members, entrants to the awards, previous winners and distinguished guests.
I would like to congratulate all the entrants to the awards. As employers you have identified that your staff are one of the keys to your business success.
From what I know about past recipients of these awards, your success will have been enhanced by your efforts to create inclusive cultures within your workplaces which respect, value, celebrate and make the most of diversity in your workforce.
These awards have been influential over many years in championing employers, and increasing awareness of the business benefits of supporting diversity.
The New Zealand economy has come through the recession in relatively good shape. But we need to continue to grow. The Government’s focus is on building an innovative and productive economy that sells more to the world, supports more jobs, and delivers better public services.
You have recognised the advantages that diversity gives you in the global market place, by making better use of all your employees’ skills and developing new skills; you have shown that this is not only good for staff, it is also good for business, and good for New Zealand.
Promoting flexible work arrangements and family-friendly workplaces supports both men and women to balance paid work alongside their family and other responsibilities.
As many of you have demonstrated, flexibility works by keeping your employees connected to your business and it reduces costs at the same time.
The Government’s focus is on ensuring businesses have access to the necessary innovation, capital, skilled workers and resources, and supporting public infrastructure and the markets. Businesses need to be internationally competitive.
As Minister of Women’s Affairs and Minister for Senior Citizens, I want to encourage a culture in this country where we appreciate and value men and women of all ages for who they are and what they can contribute.
There have been some encouraging recent moves in the private sector to try and increase diversity in company leadership. For example, the 25 Percent Group, made up of prominent chairs, chief executives and directors is committed to increasing the number of women on New Zealand boards to 25 per cent by 2015. And NZX’s new diversity reporting rule will make it mandatory for all publicly listed companies to report on the numbers of female directors and senior managers.
While the Government can support and encourage these initiatives, much of the work still lies ahead of us and ultimately these changes need to be driven by business leaders.
I am pleased see that the Awards also include a Tomorrow’s Workforce category that recognises employers who are preparing for the changing demographics of the workplace.
The Business of Ageing Report for the Ministry of Social Development looked at the economic power of older New Zealanders, and how this country can utilise their skills, knowledge and economic power to benefit New Zealand’s economic competitiveness. This included exploring how we can encourage older people to remain active in the workforce and also tap into the growing consumer market presented by an ageing population.
As the baby-boom generation begins to retire, the total workforce is expected to shrink (the entry of young workers will be exceeded by the exit of older workers). New Zealand businesses and the Government can prepare for these future changes by improving work opportunities for older people.
The Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, as well as a number of local governments, are working to promote employment opportunities for older people in their communities.
I believe the challenge for employers is to work with older workers to explore options to keep them active in the workplace in flexible arrangements that benefit the individual, the employer, and ultimately New Zealand.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today. I extend my warm wishes and congratulations to those of you receiving awards, but also to all entrants for your demonstrated commitment to innovation in work practice. Your commitment to improving the working lives of your employees is commendable.
These awards recognise the outstanding workplace practices of the winners and promote them to the wider community of employers, employees and the business community. I am sure this will inspire others to strive for the level of excellence and improved business results that you have achieved.
Whaia te iti kahurangi – me he tuohu koe ki te maunga teitei. Pursue your dream to the fullest, if you should fail let it be to a lofty mountain.
No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.