Second Edition Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment
Edited by Alain Klarsfeld, Lize A.E. Booysen, Eddy Ng, Ian Roper and Ahu Tatli
Chapter 10: Equality and diversity in Aotearoa New Zealand
Aotearoa (New Zealand - NZ) brings a unique richness to research on diversity management at work. In this chapter we show how the historical and socio-political context of New Zealand has embedded a peculiar local flavour. New Zealand's geographic isolation in the face of globalization, commitment to biculturalism and demographic shift to a multi-ethnic society, are key contextual elements to this contentious diversity discourse. Issues of equality and diversity are framed by the ideal of partnership between indigenous Maori and Pakeha (white New Zealanders) based upon the Treaty of Waitangi. In 1893 NZ was the first nation state to grant women the right to vote, and this, alongside other 'firsts' in labour and social legislation, has led to an internalized notion of egalitarianism. From 1984, NZ experienced substantial shifts in the nature of labour market engagement with minimal government involvement in the economy and deregulation. Indeed, NZ stood out for being one of few left-leaning governments to wholeheartedly embrace neoliberal approaches and policy (Callaghan, 2009; Roper, 2005). The shift from 'soft socialism' and collective responsibility to 'almost unfettered liberalism' (Humphries and Grice, 1995, p. 23) has shaped policy-level debates on how 'fairness' and 'equity' in employment outcomes can be achieved. New Zealand's approach in this time has been through lenient regulation with legislation 'light' on references to equality (McGregor, 2011).
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