Diversity and inclusion journey strong with Diversity Works nomination
Being nominated for the Inclusion Workplace Award represents the trajectory we are on to embed a culture of diversity and belonging, where everyone is encouraged to bring their whole self to work.
What makes the Diversity Works New Zealand Award nomination meaningful for us is that it was for our Gender Transition at Work Policy. A policy that was written for the people, by the people highlighting their company values of respect and one team, where everyone feels a sense of belonging.
To be nominated for the Inclusion Workplace Award, an organisation needs to demonstrate to Diversity Works New Zealand how they have improved their workplace and belonging of a specific targeted group of employees from a non-dominant group.
Our People & Capability (P&C) systems administrator Larisa Kamysheva describes the evening as an inspiring night, showcasing some incredible work from organisations across New Zealand.
“We were very privileged to have got this far, and even though we didn’t win, we did not lose and will continue our D&I journey with even more passion and dedication than ever.”
Kamysheva says she was inspired to create the policy after a conversation she had with Diversity Chair, Max Lawson, as part of her Beyond Diversity Training with the Sustainable Business Council.
"I was interested to learn about his experience transitioning in the workplace.
"Max said having a gender transitioning policy would be hugely beneficial to all gender-diverse people who worked at Watercare.
"So all trans employees felt supported and acknowledged and would never have to experience what he went through when he first transitioned."
Kamysheva says the conversation inspired her to challenge the status quo and develop a robust gender transitioning policy that provides practical guidance for people leaders.
"It includes a range of topics such as medical transition guidelines, use of sick leave, potential issues that might arise, interactions with customers and workmates, dress code and use of bathroom guidelines.
Kamysheva adds: “One day before our P&C general manager officially signed off the Policy, we had a manager reach out to P&C asking for some direction on this topic. As one of their team members has just come out as trans, the manager did not know the subject and the first step they should take."
"This prompted me to reach out to our general manager Sarah Phillips to enquire on the progress of the Policy. The very next day, we received the news that the policy was officially ratified."
She describes this moment as a monumental achievement.
"We could sense the shift that came with this Policy sign-off - it was the catalyst we all needed.
Kamysheva says the roll-out of the policy late last year set a new precedent for the business, with many people leaders genuinely wanting to learn more by attending sessions on the Policy about how they can support others through their transition journey.
"One of the unexpected positive outcomes of this journey has been the genesis of a Parents & Caregivers of Gender Questioning Young People group.
A safe space where parents who work for Watercare can share their experiences, connect and learn from one another.
Acting general manager Sarah Phillips says the Gender Transitioning Policy is more than just a tick box exercise for the organisation - "it gives permission to empower our employees to be their best selves at work".
"Being able to come to work and be your true self is important – and those that can do that give themselves fully to their job, they are able to perform at the best level, and show their potential."
Diversity Works judge Robin Davies commended us on the grassroots approach to our Transitioning at Work policy.
"We loved how Watercare's gender transitioning policy started with a team member championing for change – and even going on to write the policy themselves based on hearing the personal experiences of another team member."