The Women’s Development team will be piloting a mentorship programme with wāhine career recruits.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire and Emergency) is committed to fostering diversity and inclusivity in its workforce. While wāhine (women) have been active in firefighting since the 1940s, they are still under-represented.

Recent research(external link) commissioned by Women’s Development highlighted six themes which can create either barriers or enablers for women’s experiences within Fire and Emergency and makes recommendations on ways we can work to remove the barriers.

The research indicates that, for our wāhine career firefighters, one of the barriers emerges at the recruitment stage and one of the ways to address this is through an informal mentorship. Women’s Development has, therefore, decided to pilot a mentorship programme with wāhine career recruits.

Women’s Development National Manager, Barb Olah, says the purpose of the mentorship pilot is to increase the number of wāhine career firefighters we recruit and to assist and support their successful completion of the recruitment process, the recruits’ course and their first six months on station.

‘We know that wāhine are significantly less likely to progress through the recruitment process and even if they are successfully recruited, their experience through the recruits’ course and transitioning to station life can be more challenging. We’re excited to offer this pilot to wāhine career recruits in the first instance, before we look at the possible next steps for the programme.

‘By supporting wāhine through the recruitment process, the recruits’ course, and settling into station life, we can look to provide the best possible start to a long and successful career. 

‘Being mentored through this key part of a wāhine firefighter’s career will also have a positive effect on the wider culture of the organisation by helping us develop a more diverse and sustainable workforce that better reflects the communities we serve.’

Barb says the project also aligns with the Women’s Development Strategy under the strategic priority of Development and Inclusion and the focus area of Mentoring Wāhine.

‘We will soon be calling for expressions of interest from our wāhine career firefighters who would like to be mentors. This is completely voluntary and is not expected to be time consuming and we will be offering training. We will be posting the EOI on the Portal.

‘This pilot will also look to develop the framework for a formal mentorship programme that would be available to use across the organisation. A smaller pilot has been trialled in Te Kei with volunteer leadership and this project will aim to take lessons learned from that pilot and incorporate them with this pilot’s findings.’

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