Public Service ELNs are rōpū (groups) of kaimahi (employees) who work to improve workplace conditions and culture so employees feel included, valued, can be themselves and have a sense of belonging at work.
ELNs and their members can provide cultural richness, diverse perspectives and valuable subject matter expertise to teams, projects and to the mahi (work) of the wider agency.
Tā ngā tūhononga kaimahi whai koha ki te Ratonga Tūmatanui How ELNs contribute to the Public Service
People who have a positive experience at work are likely to be more engaged and motivated in their work. ELNs work together and with organisations to amplify diverse perspectives, contribute to a culture of inclusion and create a sense of belonging in the workplace. ELNs and their members can provide cultural richness, diverse perspectives and valuable subject matter expertise to teams, projects and to the mahi (work) of the wider organisation.
For ELNs to be successful within organisations, a healthy relationship, built on trust, needs to exist between the ELN and the organisation. Both need to have a mutual understanding of the benefits ELNs bring to the organisation’s cultural development and work together to bring about positive change.
Successful ELNs are also supported by the organisation and, in return, support the organisation’s goals, objectives and the wider culture of inclusion.
Our Public Service ELNs serve the same purpose as employee networks in any organisation across Aotearoa New Zealand. They promote and support the goals and needs of diverse communities who are employed in the Public Service. They can play a significant role in creating inclusive workplaces by:
- providing a sense of belonging for our Public Service employees
- providing a space for employees to have their voices heard
- increasing engagement, productivity and encourage innovation
- contributing to the attraction and retention of diverse workforce talent
- supporting professional development and giving visibility of emerging talent and future leaders.
Public Service ELNs are inclusive by design. All people have multiple dimensions to their experience, background, culture and perspectives. Inclusive ELNs ensure the different dimensions of diversity are acknowledged, recognised and valued.
In addition to ELNs within organisations, there are several cross-agency ELNs representing the interests of the collective organisation-level ELNs across the Public Service.
Cross-agency ELNs can provide support and advice to organisation-level ELNs of similar nature and help to keep organisation ELNs connected to systems-focused ELN work.
The current cross-agency ELNs are:
- Cross Agency Rainbow Network — Employee-led Networks
- Home — Government Women’s Network
- Pacific Public Servants Network — Employee-led Networks
- Pan-Asian Public Sector Network — Employee-led Networks
- Public Service Futures — Employee-led Networks
- Tūhono Māori Public Service Network — Employee-led Networks
- We Enable Us | Mā mātau anō mātau e whakamana — Employee-led Networks
Tui Raumata is a rōpu of cross-agency ELN leaders, working together to influence and impact practice and policy for a fairer, more equitable and inclusive Public Service.
The name, Tui Raumata, is a taonga gifted to the rōpu by Tūhono kaumātua, Mohi Apou, Chief Advisor Māori, WorkSafe. When the words ‘Tui’ and ‘Raumata’ are paired, it suggests a dynamic known as a woven tapestry — a metaphorical synergy. The name represents the intent of the rōpu, to work cooperatively to produce a combined effort greater than the sum of the separate parts — kotahitanga.
Tui Raumata meets monthly and operates as a self-governing collective. The rōpu is sponsored by Heather Baggott, Te Pou Turuki mō Te Kawa Mataaho Deputy Public Service Commissioner and supported by Te Puna Huihuinga Kaimahi.
Te tautoko i ngā ELN How to support ELNs
Across the Public Service there are a variety of ELNs, from those that are just starting out to those that are well established. Supporting ELNs can take many forms.
To make positive progress in supporting both existing and new ELNs, organisations must intentionally plan, do and report.
Creating the conditions for ELN success takes time, resources and commitment at all levels and areas of your organisation. Each organisation will need to assess and agree on the best approach for how they support ELNs. During the planning stage, engage with the existing and emerging ELNs to find out what would be most helpful to them.
The levels of engagement and support will look different for each organisation and for each ELN. This will be based on the size of the organisation, current relationships, the existing level of organisational engagement and the maturity of the network. All organisations should outline their planned approach to engaging and increasing support of ELNs in their annual plans.
Once ELNs are established in your organisation, the challenge is to enable them to achieve their own objectives, contribute to the organisation in a meaningful way and to continue to grow and evolve. To keep ELNs progressing, plan to embed and evolve support in a way that builds on successes from year to year.
Practical steps to take during the planning stage
Assign dedicated ELN support
This person or team is often involved in the design and/or delivery of your diversity and inclusion programme. There is no requirement for this role to sit within the diversity and inclusion programme, but we recommend whoever takes on this role is familiar with the organisation’s diversity and inclusion programme and Papa Pounamu priorities.
Embed ELN development into diversity and inclusion
Ensure ELNs are a specific focus area of your organisation’s diversity and inclusion programme.
Identify existing ELNs
You need to consider:
- how many ELNs you have
- how well established they are
- what support and resources they already have
- if they have an executive sponsor
- if there any new or pending ELNs needing additional start-up support.
Bring ELN leads together
ELNs learn from each other’s journeys and share common challenges and opportunities. Creating a coordinated and purposeful cohort of ELN leads strengthens their potential for impact and for bringing about change within your organisation.
Prepare your people leaders to support ELNs
How this is achieved will depend on the level of understanding and support already offered by your people leaders to ELNs.
Allocate ELN funding
Access to funding is critical to the success of ELNs. ELN members need to be able to come together to kōrero, share ideas and collaborate. ELNs also need the opportunity to engage the rest of the organisation in their mahi, which may include running events and distributing resources. Each ELN should have equitable access to funding.
Establish an ELN reporting system
All organisations must report on the 5 Papa Pounamu diversity and inclusion priorities, including ELN progress in their annual reports, which can include the ELNs’ visions, priorities and key activities. A 6-monthly report on cross-agency ELNs is provided to all funding chief executives.
Reporting at all levels ensures ELN progress is tracked to enable better understanding of ELN maturity across the Public Service.
Once ELNs are established in your agency, the challenge is to enable them to achieve their own objectives, contribute to the organisation in a meaningful way and to continue to grow and evolve. To keep ELNs progressing, plan to embed and evolve support in a way that builds on successes from year to year.
“We are a small organisation, so we partnered with another organisation to connect and combine one of our 3 networks with a corresponding network from the partner organisation. All new and existing Employee-led Networks have an executive sponsor, and ours is from our collaborating partner. All our ELNs have access to communications support and are resourced to engage with members and projects. We are planning to refresh our induction programme and will share information about ELNs to new staff.”
Organisations are expected to actively engage with, support and resource ELNs. Leaders can demonstrate support by making it easy for ELNs to establish and mature. An organisation’s systems and structures should be set up to enable the effective functioning of ELNs.
Practical steps to take during the doing stage
Adopt a flexible approach
The level of support ELNs need depends on where they are at in their journey and the size and nature of the organisation. That is, what works for a large organisation with multiple mature ELNs may not work for smaller organisations just starting out on their ELN journey.
Visible leadership support
Leaders should ‘walk the talk’ by creating a positive culture that ELNS can thrive in. Inclusive leaders understand the value of ELNs. They actively promote ELNs and provide the time and space for employees to participate in ELN activities.
Meaningful ELN collaboration should be standard practice
Encourage and support all business groups across your organisation to engage early with ELNs when developing, reviewing or revising any policies, practices and/or systems. Seeking advice and input from ELNs increases diversity of thought to our mahi, overcomes biases and mitigates ‘group think’. Allowing time for project leads to establish a meaningful relationship with the ELNs ensures best outcomes.
Recognise the work of ELNs and ELN leads
Champion the work of ELNs and ELN leads widely. Use internal and external communication channels to raise the visibility of ELNs’ mahi. Celebrate ELN successes and nominate outstanding initiatives or achievements for internal and external awards.
Enable cross-agency ELN participation
Create opportunity for ELN leads to participate and contribute to cross-agency ELNs. This provides value across organisations and the system to share resources, avoid duplication and increase collaboration.
Review and seek feedback regularly
Apply a continuous improvement approach to ELNs. Seek regular feedback from ELNs, people leaders and those not actively involved in networks to ensure ELNs are adequately supported, resourced, valued and are contributing in a meaningful way to employees and the organisation.
“Our leaders encourage the establishment and development of ELNs. Our organisation also visibly supports them. The time that it takes to be a member of an ELN and the commitment to ELN activities and priorities is authorised time that makes a valuable contribution to our organisation. We provide internal communication and administrative support to help ELNs when they undertake network activities.”
Highlight ELN successes and progress in your organisation’s annual report. In annual reports, organisations are expected to:
- include specific evidence or examples of action demonstrating progress to actively engage, support and resource ELNs
- report on how it takes account of the views and recommendations of ELNs when making decisions.
- provide a summary of key highlights and achievements for ELNs.
Check The Treasury's guidance on preparing annual reports for information about reporting on diversity and inclusion.
ELNs should report to the organisation on an annual basis. Internal reports are necessary to:
- report ELN successes and key activities to senior leadership teams — this keeps ELNs on the leadership agenda and senior leaders engaged in the ELN conversation
- ensure accountability — information about what funds organisations allocate to ELNs can be obtained under the Official Information Act Annual reporting ensures agencies are publicly accountable for all ELN funding and activities.
As with the doing stage, you should apply a continuous improvement model to reporting. Reports collate information in a way that makes it easier to identify opportunities for development and growth of diversity and inclusion programmes. Year-to-year reporting enables organisations to track and monitor their own progress and benchmark against other organisations and the wider Public Service.
“Three new networks were established bringing the total number of ELNs to 8. Seven of the ELNs have an executive sponsor — the remaining network wishes to be informal. All people leaders have supported staff to participate in network activities.
ELNs made the following recommendations, that will be implemented:
- a new mentoring programme for disabled employees (planned for next quarter)
- a space for faith observance
- celebration of community languages that is now included in the organisation’s diversity and inclusion calendar.”
Supporting Employee-led Networks: Kāinga Ora
With a workforce of over 3,000 people, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities supports housing and urban development across Aotearoa New Zealand. To achieve its vision of building better, brighter homes, communities and lives, Kāinga Ora recognises it needs to be a place where everyone feels they belong.
Kāinga Ora demonstrates its commitment to fostering a culture of belonging through Whakaurungia Te Whare Kanorau, their Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Framework. One of the D&I impact areas for Whakaurungia Te Whare Kanorau, Metrics and Measurement, has resulted in improved workforce data collection that will provide valuable insights to inform future D&I priorities and outcomes.
Another D&I impact area for Whakaurungia Te Whare Kanorau, in line with the Papa Pounamu priority areas, sets out how to support, resource and empower strong, thriving Employee-led Networks. Taking a planned approach to D&I work means that Kāinga Ora can manage the workload whilst still being effective in providing a supportive environment for networks.
Kāinga Ora has 11 Employee-led Networks; all 11 have senior leaders as network champions. Over the past year, Kāinga Ora has seen membership increases across every network. The Women’s Network, the largest network at Kāinga Ora, grew by 673%. New networks this year include the Neurodiversity and Pan-Asian networks.
In late-2021, Ngā Māngai (Many Voices/Representatives), the Network Chairs’ rōpū, was established to strengthen the voice and elevate the visibility of networks at Kāinga Ora. Ngā Māngai meets monthly to provide wrap-around support to networks, foster collaboration, and encourage an intersectional approach to activities between and across networks.
At Kāinga Ora, networks are key partners for organisational policy, practice and change initiatives. As an example, networks provided valuable insight and guidance as Kāinga Ora developed its Covid-19 response plan. Pasifika and Māori Network members are also part of Ngā Pae Tātaki – the governance groups at Kāinga Ora.
Networks have also strengthened and furthered D&I conversations across the wider organisation. For example, the Rainbow Network has led the implementation of Rainbow Awareness training across the country. The Women’s Network has been instrumental in getting menopause onto the agenda for the Wellbeing team in 2023. NARI, one of the Pasifika Network at Kāinga Ora, has generously contributed to the co-development of an upcoming Pasifika Mentoring Programme at Kāinga Ora.
Ngā rauemi ELN ELN support and resources
Te Puna Huihuinga Kaimahi Tima | Employee-led Network Team
Employees have a sense of belonging in a connected, inclusive and diverse Public Service
Te Puna Huihuinga Kaimahi Tima | Employee Network Team supports ELNs to thrive by sharing our network knowledge and experience and amplifying diverse perspectives across the Public Service.
The ELN Team is hosted by Te Kawa Mataaho and supports all cross-agency networks across the Public Service. The ELN Team can also connect and provide advice to organisation-level network leads and people leaders.
Contact Te Puna Huihuinga Kaimahi | Employee Network Team at: email@example.com
Te Puna Huihuinga Kaimahi | Employee-led Network website
Te Puna Huihuinga Kaimahi, means, ‘the wellspring or gathering place of workers’. It was developed in consultation with Stephen Ihaka of the Office of Treaty Settlements. The name reflects the site's intention to be a place where public sector employees can come together to share ideas, kōrero, tikanga, knowledge, resources, and more — all the facets of our diversity.
The Employee-led Networks website acts as a portal where interested employees can get basic information about the networks that are available in organisations, locations and areas of interest. You can also find resources, information about events that may be of interest to different networks, and contact information.
Connect with like-minded people and contribute to or learn about the work of the networks that interest you.
Te Tauwhiro Ira Tangata i roto i te Ratonga Tūmatanui o Aotearoa | Transitioning and Gender Affirmation in the New Zealand Public Service
This advice was developed by members of the Cross-Agency Rainbow Network (CARN) using best practice from within and outside the Public Service. It is a tool and resource to assist leaders, managers, and teams to have conversations about transitioning and gender affirmation.
It can support agencies in their development of policies and practices to foster inclusive workplaces, as part of the Public Service’s commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion. A word format resource is also available upon request from CARN.
This is not formal guidance issued under the Public Service Act 2020.