Welcoming Communities

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Western Bay of Plenty is participating in the Welcoming Communities pilot programme. Led by Immigration New Zealand, it recognises that a strong and vibrant community is one that enables all of its members to participate in its economic, civic and social life, and where everyone feels included, has a sense of belonging and opportunities to succeed. 

They have profiled two local businesses who are excelling in being welcoming of new migrants.

North Island Mussels Limited (NIML) has a message for businesses in the western Bay – having a diverse workforce adds to your business, but you need to make an effort to ensure you are understanding of cultural differences and build an inclusive work environment.  

There are currently 24 different ethnicities amongst the 250 staff working at North Island Mussels, from a range of countries including Korea, Colombia, Tuvalu, India, Thailand and Philippines.

As a business, they have created a welcoming environment for new migrants, and been inclusive of cultural differences in their workforce.  “It’s like a family here. We encourage staff to speak their own languages and have a voice,” says Norelle Cadman, HR Advisor. 

“We are not concerned about people’s language abilities; limited English is not a major concern for us at all”. They have partnered with Employ NZ to run English classes on-site and hold them around staff’s work schedule. “We have 18 people participating at the moment. It’s useful for those wanting to improve their English with a desire to be promoted in the business”. 

NIML’s team leaders and supervisors represent many different ethnicities and are part of their leadership and development programme.  

Induction and training is important. Buddying up new staff with other employees, and using video, powerpoint and verbal communication methods to make sure training and induction information is understood. 

Another success has been establishing a Multicultural Committee; initially for health and safety reasons; they understood that staff from some cultures didn’t feel comfortable speaking directly with management about concerns or issues in their work. The committee has representatives from cultural groups, who support as interpreters and connectors.  Through this, they have translated health and safety posters in other languages, increased cultural awareness in the organisation and hosted cultural
celebrations. 

Creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace has reaped benefits of innovation.  Two employees, Praphatpong Singthong from Thailand and Joel Cabellero from The Philippines, solved a challenging problem in mussel processing with innovative thinking.  “They suggested we add an attachment to our Automated Mussel Openers (AMO) which has a slot in it so our bullnose mussels can still be opened. This had been a big problem for us in the past, we hadn’t seen a solution – now we have incorporated their suggestion into our machines, and it’s saved us a lot of money,” says Marion. 

“New migrants bring valuable skills and perspectives; overcome any barriers in your workplace that may reduce inclusion and participation in for newcomers.  It just makes sense – I can’t imagine it any other way.”

Trevelyan’s is a thriving kiwifruit packhouse that began as a small family business. Many of those who work there today have been with Trevelyan’s from the beginning. The workforce is incredibly diverse with more than 45 nationalities represented in the 2018 season. 

Shelley Harawira, Assistant HR Manager says the diversity adds to the family business and brings personal value. 

“Trevelyan’s is big on continuous improvement and having a diverse workforce contributes to this.  Our work culture is that ‘everyone is welcome’. As we have grown from 180 to 1600 people, we are all teachers, we are here to support, to teach and to help.”  

Human Resources Manager Jodi Johnstone says while there are sometimes challenges from having such a diverse workforce, building a receptive and welcoming work culture pays off in the long run. 

“We can get around the language barrier by using visuals, and we ask for feedback from people to check they understand what’s being said.” 

Trevelyan’s is also proactive in getting resources from other employers or people who have cultural expertise. “In today’s world you need to train your business to be receptive to employing people from other cultures.  New Zealand is a blip on the map, so for people to come here and be able to contribute, we need to extend the welcome mat.”

Trevelyan’s has made the extra effort to build a sense of belonging for new employees from different cultures. During the annual Indian Diwali festival all the staff wear saris and celebrate with the large Indian workforce, as well as having cultural themes for staff social activities.  

“Our wellness strategy links to belonging and we are proactive to ensure people feel that they belong here,” says Jodi.  

“We have a large number of people who come back to work with us year after year. For us at Trevelyan’s it all comes back to our family values, being proactive and having a work culture that embraces cultural differences.” 

Visit: www.tauranga.govt.nz/welcoming-communities or www.westerbay.govt.nz/welcoming-communities

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