Building Nations 2050 kicked off with the Dentons Kensington Swan Diversity Breakfast on the morning of day one. Whaikaha – the Ministry for Disabled People’s Chief Executive, Paula Tesoriero challenged attendees to ensure that all disabled people have equitable access to the places they belong – in the community, their homes, boardrooms, on public transport and in places of influence. She underscored the importance of inclusive environments, not just diversity as a tick-box exercise.

Dentons Kensington Swan’s Christina Sheard was then joined by Beca’s Amelia Linzey, ANZ’s Hannah Crosby and the National Association of Women in Construction New Zealand’s Colleen Upton to discuss best practice diversity initiatives across the sector.

The panel focussed on the importance of embedding and leading change all the way through an organisation. They commented that where people can see themselves in an organisation it makes the organisation much more attractive to employees and can also be a competitive advantage. A key takeaway of the discussion was that bits of paper or high-level strategies aren’t the defining feature of successful implementation of diversity initiatives. Rather, it’s the culture that sits behind the strategy, and the on-the-ground implementation of change that matters most.