75-year HR anniversary for NZ Police

The force employed its first female officers in 1941 but efforts to improve gender equity are still ongoing, says one HR leader.

75-year HR anniversary for NZ Police
In 1941, New Zealand Police hired its very first female officers – a collection of ten women dispersed across the country – now, an incredible 75 years on, and one HR leader says the force is still focussed on improving gender equity.

“It’s really high on our agenda and we’ve got a number of initiatives in play,” reveals Alexandra Renton-Green, principal advisor of organisational and employee development at New Zealand Police.

The biggest project – according to Renton-Green – is the nation-wide Women’s Advisory Network, first launched in 2014.

“The network was established by a number of our female commissioned officers with support of the commissioner and the purpose of it was to ensure that, across the country, women were getting the opportunity to advance as they wanted to,” says Renton-Green.

The WAN has satellite hubs in every district across the country and is comprised of external and internal representatives as well as senior executives from the force – both male and female

“They’re interested in finding development opportunities for women so they run seminars, they run conferences, they have informal network groups, they do all sorts,” says Renton-Green. “It’s not just necessarily work related, they also share external support network stuff.”

One of the major successes for the WAN was in Canterbury where an imbalanced leadership team reached out to the network in an effort to improve diversity.

“The leadership team down there was all male and because they can’t just appoint a female to the leadership team, they agreed that two representatives from the WAN would sit on their district leadership team permanently,” reveals Renton-Green.

Two professional development programs run exclusively for women – Aspire and Connect – also encourage the advancement of female employees in the force.

“One of them is for constable level and the other is for sergeant and senior sergeant level,” explains Renton-Green. 

“They’re aimed at exposing some of our more talented women to thinking about how they operate, how women can sometimes be perceived, how their work style is affecting how they operate, helping them manage some of the barriers in their lives, and helping them network with other people,” she told HRM.

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