Fire & Emergency NZ to address workplace bullying

'I have zero tolerance for bullying and harassment of any kind'

Fire & Emergency NZ to address workplace bullying

Fire and Emergency New Zealand has released an independent review into its workplace policies, practices and procedures to address bullying and harassment.

Commissioned by Chief Executive Rhys Jones on 9 July 2018, The Positive Workplace Culture Review was led by retired Judge, and former Chair of Pumicelands Enlarged Rural Fire District, Coral Shaw, supported by a reference group of experts.

According to Jones, the review was commissioned to give direction on how to lead a safe and inclusive workplace.

Moreover, it followed the formation of Fire and Emergency New Zealand in July 2017, which brought together 14,000 people, across nearly 40 different firefighting organisations with different cultures, identities and ways of doing things.

“The safety, health and wellbeing of our people is of paramount importance to us,” said Jones.

“I have zero tolerance for bullying and harassment of any kind in this organisation, and we will be working together to implement change and be the organisation New Zealand expects us to be.

“We do a really good job at protecting communities but we need to put more focus on looking after each other.”

All of the report’s 33 recommendations were accepted by Fire and Emergency, which include the need to adopt a new set of values, Code of Behaviour, and remove barriers to reporting bullying and harassment.

Jones added that the report is “wide-ranging and confronting”.

“We asked Judge Shaw to shine a light on our organisation, and what we’ve found is a clear need for change to remove unwanted behaviour,” said Jones.

“This change will take time and it may be difficult, but this will make us stronger, and allow us to focus on what we do best – keeping New Zealanders safe.”

Jones added that Judge Shaw was given full and open access to engage with past and present personnel, and the organisation’s current processes, policies and procedures.

“I’d like to thank everyone who was brave enough to share their stories for this review.”

According to Jones, change is already underway, and the organisation has committed to taking all necessary steps to build a workplace culture where “everyone feels respected and included regardless of their gender, ethnicity, age, orientation and beliefs”.

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