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NZ Defence Force Supports Diversity Conference

An international conference aimed at celebrating diversity is set to reinforce the New Zealand Defence Force’s image as a forward-thinking global military organisation.

The Pride in Defence – Success Through Diversity conference will be held from 28-29 November in partnership with Massey University Wellington.

Defence Force Assistant Chief Personnel, Brigadier Howie Duffy, says the conference marks a major milestone for the New Zealand Defence Force, which lifted its ban on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning (GLBTIQ) people serving in uniform or as civilian staff 20 years ago.

"In recent years, we have seen increasing numbers of GLBTIQ people choosing a career in the NZDF and current members of the NZDF who identify as GLBTIQ electing to live and serve openly. As a progressive employer, the NZDF has an ethical responsibility to ensure the needs of its increasingly diverse workforce are supported," he said.

The conference will bring together policymakers, senior leaders and influencers from Defence, academia, the public and private sector, and GLBTIQ-focused charities and support groups.

Speakers include representatives from the United States Army and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The discussions will focus around sharing best practice, and offering practical solutions to strengthen organisational success by promoting an inclusive corporate culture.

The NZDF received the Supreme Award in this year’s ANZ EEO Trust Diversity Awards for its networking and support group, OverWatch, further raising the organisation‘s profile in the area of GLBTIQ support.

"The two-day conference, led by OverWatch, will continue this important conversation around inclusion and support," said Brigadier Duffy.

WHAT: Pride in Defence – Success through Diversity conference

WHERE: Massey University’s Wellington Campus

WHEN: 28-29 November 2013 (attached is the programme of the two-day conference)

Media are invited to attend the Powhiri/Welcome, Memorial Activity, Chief of Defence Force address and the keynote speaker’s address.

To register for the entire conference, go to: https://masseyuni.wufoo.eu/forms/pride-in-defence/

Journalists who are interested in attending the conference must register their interest with the Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980 by 5pm on 22 November 2013 (Friday).

ENDS

Background:

Globally, workplace discrimination, or losing and replacing workers who leave their jobs due to unfairness and discrimination costs economies billions of dollars per year. A significant number of those workers are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals who have been treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The cost of failing to retain talent far outweighs that of supporting diversity and inclusive initiatives.

Within the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), we recognise the need to support and empower our people. We know that a GLBTIQ-inclusive workplace policies enhance our ability to recruit and retain the best the New Zealand workforce has to offer. We know that equitable treatment of our people leads to improved staff morale and relationships. Importantly, we recognise that our people are more able to focus on the mission when operating in a comfortable and inclusive environment.

In January 2012, the NZDF stood up the group OverWatch – a support group for serving members of the NZDF GLBTIQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning) community, and their allies and families.

OverWatch contributes to the NZDF’s goals of employment equality and diversity.

OverWatch also provides support, guidance and advice to the NZDF managers and those in positions of command in dealing with GLBTIQ issues.

Throughout 2013, OverWatch has raised the profile of the NZDF as an equitable employer through public appearances including Out in the Square (Wellington), Big Gay Out (Auckland) and the Auckland Pride Parade 2013.

In September 2013, the NZDF received the ANZ EEO Trust Diversity and Supreme Awards for OverWatch. This further increased the positive public profile of the organisation and positioned it as a supportive, inclusive and modern military force.

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