Thursday 20 February was a momentous occasion for the engineering and architecture professions, with the official launch of the Diversity Agenda Accord / Te Whakaaetanga Kaupapa Kanorau – a public commitment made by chief executives and business owners of leading firms, to achieving truly diverse and inclusive professions.
Minister for Women, Hon Julie Anne Genter, officially launched the Accord at Parliament’s Grand Hall. We also heard from fantastic industry leaders and representatives who gave their personal accounts on the Accord’s significance: Rachel Dodd (Director, Arthouse Architects), Ian Blair (Managing Director NZ, WSP), Whare Timu, Callum Smith, Yaser Shakib and Elisapeta Heta.
We also debuted our new video, which brings you the words of the Accord.
Ian Blair, said: “We’ve still got a lot to do as an organisation, but also as an industry. Today the signatories of the Diversity Agenda Accord are determined and united, to create more diverse and inclusive industries, which will benefit those who work in the industry and our society.”
Elisapeta Heta, Senior Associate, Architectural Graduate – Kaihautū Whaihanga and Māori Design Leader at Jasmax stated: “I’m here because I want to make it visible and obvious to other wahine, to other Pasifika and Māori coming through the communities, who are potentially looking at architecture as an option, to see that somebody else has done it. And hopefully, they don’t have to fight to the level I’ve had to fight to receive the accolades and the acknowledgement I get to enjoy.”
The Accord is the next step for the Diversity Agenda, which has achieved a lot in its short life, with over 165 organisations now signed up as members. However, a lot more needs to be done to drive real behavioural change and overcome the issues we both face when it comes to attracting and keeping staff from all walks of New Zealand society.
The Accord is a key tool for achieving this behavioural change.
Since the Diversity Agenda’s focus has broadened beyond gender, to encapsulate all facets of diversity, and the central role that inclusion plays at the heart of diversity, there was the call for a new flagship commitment and a way for organisations to be held to account.
Our member survey conducted last year revealed the Pākehā, male demographic still heavily dominate the professions and its leadership. From our respondents, only 16% of engineers and 25% of registered architects in New Zealand are women, and just 6% of employees across the professions are Māori and Pasifika.
The Accord defines a clear set of tenets for firms to commit to, with the submission of a yearly report on how they have adhered to them, together with the compulsory completion of a survey to back up the report with data. There will be an annual review summit where all signatories will gather to discuss and be held accountable by their peers for their progress over the previous 12 months.
Find out more about the Accord, and see the current list of signatories.