Equal Employment Opportunities are policies and practices intended to recognise and value the diverse skills and talents that people bring to their work. They are intended to eliminate workplace discrimination on the basis of age, colour, disability, employment status, ethical belief, ethnic or national origins, family status, marital status, political opinion, race, religious belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
Current NEON work on EEO in New Zealand:
Census of Women's Participation
The incidence of age discrimination is prevalent in New Zealand society. Read Professor Marie Wilson and Jordan Kan's research report, Barriers to entry for the older worker. (Word document)
Click here for the main NEON page on age discrimination for more information, news stories, and resources on the issue.
The right to breastfeed in a court room has been highlighted in the media. EEO Commissioner Judy McGregor has written to the chief judges seeking their support to promote the acceptance of breast feeding to court rooms. Read a copy of the letter or download a pdf copy here
Rt Hon Chief Justice Sian Elias
Dear Chief Justice Elias
Recent events have highlighted the issue of breast feeding in public. One of the recent occasions was in a court room. In the Commission’s experience breastfeeding is an emotional issue and the Commission mediates complaints when they fall inside the parameters of the Human Rights Act 1993, on the basis that objection to breastfeeding in a public place could constitute sex discrimination. The Commission also provides advice on the right to breastfeed and has produced a pamphlet on the matter, which can be downloaded at http://www.hrc.co.nz/2005/breastfeeding-rights-explained-in-new-pamphlet
The Human Rights Commission is aware that the right to breastfeed in a court-room falls outside the purview of the Human Rights Act 1993. However, given changed community norms and growing public tolerance in regard to breastfeeding in public and increased protection of breastfeeding mothers in employment legislation, the Commission seeks your support to promote the acceptance of breast feeding to court rooms.
In a report on The Right to Breastfeed the Commission included the following observations:
“The human right to food and nutrition, including breastmilk, is well established in international human rights principles and law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 25(1)), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Art. 11), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights assert the rights to adequate standards of living, to food, life, survival, and development. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (Art. 11 & 12) protects women from discrimination because of the responsibilities of motherhood. Most explicitly, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sets out the rights of children to proper nutrition and health care, while highlighting the importance of their parents’ education on “basic knowledge of child health and nutrition [and] the advantages of breastfeeding” (Art. 24).”
Discussion about the rights and responsibilities of parents and the state concluded:
New Zealand was examined by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on its seventh periodic report on implementation of the treaty this year. In the concluding comments the Committee noted their concern “that there has been insufficient action taken on behalf of the State party to train judges and lawyers on the Convention and to integrate it into the State party’s legal framework.”
The Committee recommended the State party to:
The Commission asks that chief judges bring to the attention of court officials and all judges, the international human rights instruments relating to the right to breastfeeding and the Human Rights Commission advice on the matter. We are happy to make available copies of the pamphlet and background material should that be required.
Many New Zealand employers committed to managing people on the basis of proven EEO thinking and diversity management practices belong to the EEO Trust’s EEO Employers Group. Members of the EEO Employers Group receive information, ideas and support in implementing EEO initiatives to get the best from their workforce. Go to the EEO Trust’s website to find out more.
EEO is not just about doing the right thing, but also makes good business sense. New Zealand’s current skills shortage highlights the business imperative behind effectively recruiting and managing staff to ensure they add value to the workplace. To find out more about recruitment practices which make the most of New Zealand’s diverse workforce, take a look at the EEO Trust's recruitment toolkit, or their recruitment training tool, Tools for Tapping into Talent.
"Give Girls a Go!" - the Human Rights Commission's major report on young female modern apprentices in New Zealand.
Young women from different areas of New Zealand talk openly about their experiences of Modern Apprenticeships and trades training in this report published by the Human Rights Commission, Te Kāhui Tika Tangata. Their employers and others also speak about what motivated them to hire women as builders, joiners, glaziers, sign writers, electricians, motor cycle technicians and panel beaters.
New Zealand's current labour skills shortage and the Government's commitment to expand Modern Apprenticeship numbers to 14,000 by December 2008 make this report timely. An additional $34.4 million was allocated in Budget 2006 over the next four years to expand the scheme. Three thousand Modern Apprentices have now completed their training and as at 31 December 2006, there were 9,466 Modern Apprentices. Employers will have to think laterally about the recruitment of apprentices to address the skill gaps. The traditional underrepresentation of women in non-traditional work represents a significant opportunity for improved female participation and increased diversity of the Modern Apprenticeships scheme. The female Modern Apprentices believe they have made the right choice even though some of them have faced difficulties in pursuing their vocational choices.
The Human Rights Commission receives a significant number of enquiries and complaints of workplace discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Problems faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people at work are difficult to tackle because there is incomplete data on the numbers of GLBT in the workforce. The biggest enemy is still the closet, says Human Rights Commissioner Joy Liddicoat. “Leadership by lesbians and gays is vital and that begins with your own decision to be proud of who you are,” she says.
The EEO Trust’s active research programme explores EEO and diversity issues to gather practical information and ideas for employers wanting to make the best use of New Zealand’s diverse population. Review its recent research findings. The EEO Trust also has an extensive database of books, articles, presentations and other material on EEO and diversity issues. Anyone can browse the database and EEO Employers Group members can borrow resources from the library.
The barriers facing New Zealand’s migrant and refugee jobseekers are well known, despite their growing contribution to the economy. There is ample research reporting the difficulties migrants and refugees face in their search for decent work. Migrant community groups have also clearly identified the problems they face in accessing employment.
Around New Zealand many employers, local authorities, central government agencies and refugee and migrant services are trying to solve the problem of migrant underemployment. NEON has identified a number of schemes that illustrate best practice examples.
Other EEO Issues: