Finding a forward-thinking, inclusive workplace just got a lot easier thanks to a new initiative that's been embraced by some of New Zealand's leading corporates.

Last Monday the YWCA Auckland in partnership with Mosaik announced the launch of the Gender Tick.

The programme assesses organisations across five key indicators including gender inclusive culture, flexibility and leave, women in leadership, gender pay equality and ensuring a safe workplace.

The programme is a first for New Zealand and enables businesses to show their commitment to providing a fair workplace for all employees regardless of gender.

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The YWCA has established a reputation as a champion for gender equality through pioneering the Equal Pay Awards in 2014.

YWCA Auckland business development manager, Debbie Burrows says the idea for the Gender Tick came from the insights and shared experiences of the Equal Pay Award entrants.

"Companies kept asking us if what they were doing was right and so many wanted to know how they could improve in issues like parental leave, sabbaticals and flexible working."

It became clear that there was a real need for a programme that independently validates people policies and processes especially with regard to gender.

"The outcome that these businesses wanted was a healthy workplace culture; and addressing gender-equality has significant benefits for their workforce."

Six of New Zealand's largest employers have joined as foundation members and are working through the accreditation process. Air New Zealand, Auckland Council, Coca-Cola Amatil, Fonterra, Lion and SkyCity collectively represent more than 45,000 employees.

Companies who become accredited members of the Gender Tick can display the logo on all internal and external communication, promoting themselves as independently validated champions of workplace gender equality. Membership is reviewed through an evaluation 18 months after it is conferred, and companies can access research on international best practice for gender-equal workplaces through their member logins.

"When women have an equal place in society, everyone does better," says diversity and inclusion specialist Dr Kaisa Wilson.

"However, there is a long history of women's marginalisation in the workplace, and the gender pay gap is a symptom of this.

"To move forward we need to put women at the centre and design organisations in which they lead alongside men. We must ensure that the work women do is valued and paid at the same rate, and that we provide space for women to manage paid work with the unpaid labour that disproportionately falls to them, from which we all benefit. When women do well, we all do well."

Wilson, who is the lead assessor of the programme, believes advancing the rights of women in their workplaces makes sense not just for social justice reasons, but also for reasons of productivity, workforce health, talent management and competitive advantage.

The new initiative has been welcomed by its foundation members and other accreditation agencies.


"The Gender Tick is a fantastic initiative because it promotes the importance of gender equality for business and society, and helps keep organisations accountable," says Susan Doughty, manager of diversity and inclusion at Fonterra. "We're delighted to be one of the six foundation members and look forward to sharing our experiences with other businesses that are starting out in the accreditation process. By working together, we can help drive New Zealand forward to become a more inclusive and diverse place to live and work."

Mai Chen, chair of the Superdiversity Institute, which provides CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Tick accreditation, believes the benefit of the Gender Tick for employers is that it not only creates a more attractive workplace for women but also helps them retain staff.

"In the war for top talent, this is a game-changer. In a competitive environment, making sure you have all of the talent pool at all levels of your organisation is critical to success."