Written on 30 November 2017 by Peter Hughes

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New Zealand’s State Services must reflect the communities they serve.

Unfortunately, the State Services workforce is not as diverse as it should and could be.

Diversity is not only about social equity. We know that more diversity leads to more innovation and productivity.

That’s why I’m supporting Disability Pride Week which starts today (Thursday 30 November) and runs till Tuesday (5 December). The week is an opportunity for disabled people to celebrate through activities, sharing stories and creativity.

A number of events are planned across the country, including performances, film festivals, and art displays in the run-up to United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December.

One of my priorities as State Services Commissioner is to work with State Services leaders to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce, one that more closely reflects that 24% of New Zealand’s population is disabled. Currently only 4-7% of employees in the State sector identify as being disabled. The Commission is working alongside government agencies on disability-related issues, including the collection of more data and supporting chief executives.

There are many economic and social benefits to having a diverse workforce and the most obvious is the large pool of talented people who can make valuable contributions to New Zealand.

You can find more information on the benefits of employing disabled people, and how to create a more inclusive workforce, on the Commission’s website.

I recently met with Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero to discuss these issues and I am looking forward to working with her and the Office for Disability Issues to help improve outcomes for disabled New Zealanders alongside agencies across the state sector.

Many disabled people already make a valuable contribution to State services, their wider communities and New Zealand but the talent pool is huge and remains an untapped resource.

We all have a responsibility to help shift the dial for disabled New Zealanders and supporting and celebrating Disability Pride Week is a good start. 

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