Reaping the benefits of a diverse workforce

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Written By: Karina Abadia 25/8/15

Cultural diversity is an untapped resource in the Auckland workforce, Matt Ensor says.

“I see so many companies that just don’t know how to turn it into a competitive advantage,” the Beca advisory director says.

He is one of three presenters taking part in St Matthew-in-the-City’s Business Leaders’ Breakfast event, which is called The value of difference: cultural diversity in the workplace.

People often think diversity brings challenges and it does, Ensor says. But only if you don’t change the way the company works and understand expectations.

For example, how people define initiative can differ, the Glendowie resident says.

“For some people who come from Asia, initiative might be finding better ways to do their job. But to most New Zealanders it’s doing things which aren’t in their job description.”

Members of Beca’s management have had meetings with staff to ensure everyone understands attitudes to work here.

Mai Chen, who is a managing partner at Chen Palmer law firm, is another one of the presenters.

She is also the chairwoman of the Superdiversity Centre for Law, Policy and Business.

Superdiversity is defined by academics as 25 per cent or more people being born outside of New Zealand of 100 or more ethnicities, she says.

Chen is a strong believer that companies which invest in a diverse workforce will reap the benefits.

“It’s a no-brainer really. You’ve got to recruit from the market to service the market.

“That means these people can’t be discriminated against when they look for employment. They can’t get the feeling that you like their money but you don’t like them.”

St Matthew-in-the-City vicar Dr Helen Jacobi is excited to facilitate the event.

“The audience will learn from the speakers and be encouraged to think about diversity in a new way,” she says.

* The breakfast event takes place on September 22 from 7:30am till 9am. Go to to book.




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