Auckland, 30 September 2021 – George Weston Foods’ Baking NZ (GWF) commitment to inclusivity saw it take out the top honours at the 2021 Diversity Awards NZ. The company won the Inclusive Workplace Award for the medium-to-large organisations category and then the Supreme Award.
The judges recognised GWF’s commitment to fostering inclusive teams through education and initiatives and by promoting its values: safe, courageous, trusting and collaborative. Its Everyday Moments of Goodness programme was introduced to encourage employees to recognise and celebrate those moments in each other’s behaviour.
“We wanted to build a strong inclusive culture that would encourage employees to act as if they were owners of the business, bringing Everyday Moments of Goodness to life every day through their language, role modelling, values and actions,” said Solary Ha, People and Performance Business Partner at GWF.
“We didn’t set out to become diverse. That’s just the way we are, and we have been for a long time. Diversity and inclusivity are baked in, naturally. In saying that we don’t think of our company as “diverse”: we think we represent what New Zealand is really all about. We’re Kiwi as.
“We know people come from different cultures and they have different beliefs, experiences and expectations. The challenge is always to find ways to bring people together in ways that matter to them – and we do that around our shared sense of purpose,” says Solary.
The company bases its approach on the strong belief that encouraging employees to act as though they are owners of the business encourages buy in to the company’s shared purpose and values and creates a culture of inclusion.
“This is an organisation where being human and being real is the lived reality across the whole team”, says Diversity Works NZ CEO Maretha Smit.
“We’re lucky to be a baking business, because everyday goodness is what we produce, it’s what we believe in, and it’s something we try to deliver every day,” says Mark Bosomworth, General Manager Baking Division. “Everyone who works in the business understands what being able to feed your family with good food means to people. Celebrating everyday moments of goodness has become a way of doing things around here.”
Mark heads the company’s Inclusion and Diversity Taskforce, which is made up of representatives from across the business, and the business strives to foster inclusive teams through education and supportive initiatives designed to create an environment that embodies its vision of ‘Everyone belongs, everyone is valued, and everyone has equal opportunity’.
The judges were told of a wide range of initiatives that illustrated how the company values and supports its employees, their families and the community:
- The company tops up the Government’s paid parental leave by an additional 12 weeks and has made key changes to its parental leave policy, including paying the employer contribution to KiwiSaver during unpaid parental leave for up to 40 weeks, and offering one paid day off work each week for 12 weeks following a return from parental leave.
- In 2020 the organisation partnered with The Learning Wave to offer a 12-week essential literacy skills course to frontline employees at its Wiri bakery. More than 13 nationalities are represented at the site and English is often an additional language.
- Staff feedback highlighted that flexibility helped with navigating work and home life, so GWF relaunched its leave policy to take this into account.
Employees are offered the chance to volunteer at approved community organisations for two days each year
- GWF’s partnership with KidsCan sees more than 100,000 loaves of bread donated to schools each year, supporting local communities, sharing its products and nourishing kids throughout New Zealand.
- Other initiatives are based around race relations, safety and wellbeing at work, celebrating International Day of People with Disability and championing women in the industry.
- The company has embarked on an ambitious four-year sustainability programme to reduce and eliminate waste across its supply chain. GWF’s environmental initiatives span water, energy and waste, and the company has committed to having 100% of all packaging be reusable or recyclable by 2025 or earlier.