Last year brought together 40 different organisations and with it 40 different cultures, identities and ways of doing things.

As we grow our organisation, we build on the strengths from the past, but we also need to look at areas where we could do better, and work to make improvements.

You will have heard me talk about this before, but it’s important that we all understand what an inclusive and respectful culture means and why change is needed.

An inclusive and respectful culture means that we value a mixture of people with different personal beliefs, values, skills and life experiences in our organisation.

This isn’t just about saying that we are inclusive and respectful of each other, it’s about our everyday behaviours at work and how we treat each other. Your colleagues deserve your respect and openness and to be treated well, and you deserve the same back.

Our whakatauki acknowledges the importance of every person, in our organisation.  He waka eke noa; everybody in one canoe with no exception.  This means it is up to each and every one of us to create a culture where everyone feels safe, welcomed and that they belong. 

We value the different roles and skills needed in different parts of the waka working together, and it affirms the significance of every person belonging and being protected, within a unified purpose.

I have made a commitment to ensuring Fire and Emergency New Zealand is a safe place to work for everyone. I want everyone to join me in improving our workplace culture through the upcoming recommendations of the Independent Review.

While our strategy and work programme on Respect and Inclusion is already underway, the recommendations from the Independent Review into workplace policies, procedures and practices to address bullying and harassment is welcomed and when we receive this in the new year, it will shape our work ahead.

Changing culture isn’t easy and there’s no quick fix, which is why we have to be relentless in this shared effort.

The make-up and expectations of society and our communities are changing and so must we. What was deemed acceptable in the past, may not be acceptable now. We need to strive to be the organisation our communities think and expect us to be.  

We have a bright future ahead as a new organisation and we need to ensure that this is built on a strong, positive and inclusive culture.

In the next 12 months our priorities include:

  • Enhancing inclusive leadership capability and accountability at all levels
  • Championing, supporting and growing inclusive networks, including Peer Supporters
  • Ensuring fit for purpose policies and processes that drive respect and inclusion
  • Developing and implementing an evaluation framework, metrics and monitoring programme so we can measure our progress
  • Clear and visible support and process for addressing unwanted behaviour.

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