EEO Trust Awards inspiring

  • Pansy Wong
Ethnic Affairs Women's Affairs

Recognising outstanding workplace practices has been the hallmark of the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Trust and this evening businesses which demonstrated such practices were acknowledged in its Work and Life Awards.

Minister of Women's Affairs Pansy Wong says discrimination in the workplace is illegal but changes in attitude and culture can be further enhanced through the recognition of businesses which walk the talk and excel.

She says the three awards presented by the EEO Trust are particularly relevant to her as the Minister of Women's and Ethnic Affairs.

The Skills Highway Award recognises employers who worked to enhance their staff's literacy and numeracy skills and help them reach their full potential.

It was won by the South Island's West Coast company Liddell Contracting which joined with a training partner and established Building Bridges in 2007. It used everyday workplace documents to improve staff literacy and numeracy.

Mrs Wong says the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey undertaken by the Ministry of Education shows that 40 per cent of New Zealanders don't have the literacy and numeracy necessary to understand many of the written documents or maths needed in the workplace.

"The Ministry of Women's Affairs is working on ways to up-skill women in low paid work and therefore out of precarious and low-paid work, and literacy and numeracy issues are part of that.''

Mrs Wong says another focus of MWA is flexibility in the workplace which allows women to continue their career path through their child rearing days, but workplace flexibility is known to benefit all employees.

Workplace flexibility was recognised in the Workplace Work &Life Award which was won this year by ANZ New Zealand.

Mrs Wong says ANZ's My Flexibility program launched in May 2008 offers a range of flexibility options and advice to employers and employees on how to make flexibility work for everyone.

"It is for all staff irrespective of how long they have worked for the company and is not just for those with caring responsibilities. I hope other companies will talk to them and learn how this benefits business."

The third award, Tomorrow's Workforce Award, went to OMEGA (Opportunities for Migrant Employment in Greater Auckland) which brings new migrants together with local mentors to provide one-on-one support, advice and local knowledge to help channel them into jobs.

Mrs Wong says supporting diversity in the workforce and for people to achieve their full potential in meaningful employment is a priority of the Government and essential to our economy.

She congratulated the winners and the highly commended in each of the categories for their forward thinking work practices.