Diversity in the workplace

In May 2021, NTA5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 9, 2021

What does diversity mean? It is an understanding that everyone is unique and recognising our differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

In New Zealand, we seldom celebrate the champions in the workplace who promote an inclusive working environment. The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and Teletrac Navman are driving diversity change in Australia. They have recently launched a ground-breaking initiative that will celebrate industry diversity, develop diversity champions, and improve its image. The initiative is structured to showcase diversity champions to the trucking industry and broader community, promote a positive perception of the industry, a nd encourage new entrants into the workforce.

Similar to Australia, New Zealand is experiencing a big shift in the perception of transport. There is still much ground to cover when it comes to diversifying the workplace. Our statistics are like Australia, where we have an ageing, predominately male workforce and a single-figure percentage of women truck drivers.

Our partner, Teletrac Navman, is a strong diversity champion and has demonstrated a commitment to drive positive change in the trucking industry, both here and in Australia. The company aims to support an inclusive sector made up of people from diverse communities. It understands the benefits that come with having a diverse workforce. For those companies that have not recognised the need for an inclusive workplace, it’s time to make some changes. It’s been proven repeatedly how valuable it is for a business to have inclusive policies and culture.

Here are five simple strategies to implement in your workplace:

• Stop following society stereotypes. In many cases, company supervisors and managers are to blame for the lack of diversity in the workplace.

• Share the decision-making process with all staff.

• Educate employees as to what diversity means.

• Promote flexibility in roles in your workplace.

• Respect different career goals and encourage extended learning and training.

And here are six practical strategies for creating an inclusive environment:

• Educate your leaders, supervisors, managers about diversity.

• Form an inclusion council or committee.

• Celebrate employee differences.

• Listen to employees when they raise concerns or have questions.

• Hold more effective meetings, ensuring you set the scene so that staff are comfortable raising issues.

• Communicate your company’s growth goals and measure progress, so staff feel included.

Ensure that when you are advertising for staff, your advertisement reflects that you are an inclusive workplace. Celebrate acts of kindness and gestures of respect. Discourage bullying behaviour and pranks.

Different types of bullying in the workplace are starting to be identified, and it pays to keep your eyes and ears open. Even comments about the way people look or their size are types of bullying, and while they might seem funny, they are certainly not fun for the person the comments are aimed at.

After all, it is all about people, processes, and profit. If your methods are wrong, your people will be unhappy, and you probably will not have profit. If you can create a culture where people are kind to each other, it will reflect in productivity and staff retention.

It’s costly to replace staff. Create a healthy culture by showing empathy, especially if someone is going through a tough time. Staff will see that action and feel respected and valued. Back it up with random acts of kindness – these could be as small as a chocolate fish placed in their locker with a card to say, ‘Thanks so much. I appreciate your efforts.’

We have members who reward great driving or excellent health and safety records with a grocery voucher. Such rewards are very visible to your staff and show that you care. Adopt the aspiration to be the employer whose company has an inclusive workplace culture – it will result in improved staff retention and better profits.


                  Carol McGeady, executive officer NZ Trucking Association

NZ Trucking Association can be contacted on 0800 338 338 or info@nztruckingassn.co.nz