1 June 2022 saw us hold the annual Accord Summit at Parliament – our opportunity to bring all signatories of the Diversity Agenda Accord together to share their progress with their peers and to be accountable for the steps they are taking within their firms to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces and professions.
We did this by digging into their individual data and collective results from the annual Accord survey, homing in on what we they are doing well and what they can do more of to drive real change in their organisation, and discussing how far we can go as a collective to bring change to the wider engineering and architecture professions.
Our hosting Minister, Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities kicked off the event by speaking about the work Government is doing through its employment action plans and spoke specifically to the gender pay equity gap – in this way challenging us all on an area our collective data shows we are still struggling with. This opening set an important context for our conversations for the day, highlighting the significant control we have over how we design our workplaces to be truly diverse and inclusive.
We also introduced our new industry-led Steering Committee who will be working with our newly appointed dedicated Diversity Agenda Programme Director to lead the Diversity Agenda into its next evolution.
We discussed the data and opportunities to enhance the way we use data in the future of the Diversity Agenda programme
We started the Summit by looking at the survey results for this year and using it as a platform to reflect on and discuss individual firm’s progress over the year. We heard how signatories whose individual results were favourable to the average had made significant efforts over the last 12 months to address key areas of inclusion and belonging in their organisations. Some firms noted that their ability to shift the dial over a 12-month period in terms of the statistics that are collected is hard. For example, over a 12-month period not many senior people leave, and this affects the opportunity to drive change in diversity of senior leadership. It is also a challenge for smaller firms who have no equivalence in roles.
There was also a discussion about how we track and measure the actions taken to shift the dial in cultures and behaviours, which are more intangible but equally important to the full story about how we are doing as sectors. How we bring the quantitative data together with the qualitative stories to give a full picture to our progress through the Diversity Accord is an action for the Steering Committee to consider going forward.
What has worked well
We talked about what has worked well. Successful initiatives or approaches were shared that have helped firms shift the dial, including:
- Downer’s Women in Leadership programme and ‘Own Different’ campaign
- Rainbow Tick
- Training, including investment in te reo and cultural competence training, women in leadership programmes, and leadership vulnerability
- Use of champions and internal groups, but noting the importance of supporting these groups and empowering them in their leadership and ownership
- Creating communities of belonging
- Focus on governance diversity, and one firm shared it has reviewed its governance structure to enable greater diversity
- Changes in maternity/parental leave entitlements
- Intentional focus on women in leadership in recruitment efforts
- A move to values-based recruitment and removal of GPA requirements
- Bringing recruitment inhouse so diverse candidates are not screened out early by external providers, and carrying out reviews of the recruitment process to identify unconscious bias and unknown barriers
- Providing greater clarity on the culture and values of the business
- Social events
- Getting involved in opportunities to work with and in schools to promote the sector, build the pipeline and partnerships with local schools
- Succession planning with an intentional focus on women in leadership early in that process
- Bringing tikanga practices into everyday work activities to build comfort and confidence, for example, regular use of pepeha and karakia
- Rotating leadership roles
What needs work
In terms of areas to work on, firms shared the following:
- Giving people more responsibility and ownership within the business and allowing them to make mistakes and learn. This includes taking risks, doing things different, and trusting people
- Having more open discussions with our teams about development and capability to take on projects and roles
- Building client recognition for our work in diversity and inclusion and getting their support for doing these differently in support of our diversity aspirations
- Shifting the conversation from these being maths-based professions to a creative industry, to attract a wider pool of talent
- Extending our focus to neurodiversity
- Our reach into schools and universities/vocational institutions, and exploring different pathways into our sector and the role firms can play in mentoring and apprenticeships to enable this
- Recognising within CPD requirements time spent giving back to the profession, developing future talent, and cultural development – elevating these as core areas of professional development
- Building internal trust – some firms noted their challenge asking staff questions about identity given that they are still working to build their trust with staff
The final part of the Summit explored how we move forward as a collective in the evolution of the programme. Over the last year, with the help of our Accord signatory firms, we have invested in the future of the Diversity Agenda and Accord by restructuring it to have stronger leadership from industry, and dedicated resource. Our new industry-led Steering Committee and Programme Director will be focussing in the next 12 months on how we can evolve the programme and achieve a step-change in the diversity and inclusiveness of our professions and sector. The kōrero from the Summit will critically inform that mahi – from the way we collect and use data, to how we tell the full story of our progress, to the role of targets and reporting, and other opportunities for change.
If you would like your firm to join the conversation and be a part of the movement for change, please join the Diversity Agenda and sign the Accord.