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Systemic Discrimination Addressed By Burton Report



The Human Rights Commission is urging employers to take note of the recommendations contained in the Burton Report, the Gender Integration Audit of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

Proceedings Commissioner Chris Lawrence said the Burton Report is a blueprint for employers to address gender equity within male- dominated work forces, and is relevant to all human resource managers, not just the Defence Force.

"Women form a large part of the modern workforce. Freedom from discrimination in employment is a fundamental human right that must be respected," Mr Lawrence said.

"Employers have a duty to ensure their workplaces are as free from discrimination as possible. That includes a sexual harassment prevention policy and procedures that address any barriers to gender integration," he said.

Mr Lawrence said the Commission had recognised that the Defence Force, like many other employers in traditionally male-dominated areas, had systemic problems in relation to gender integration. It drew the matter to the attention of the NZDF and arranged for an Australian expert, Dr Clare Burton, to investigate the situation in NZDF and report on it.

Dr Burton had conducted a similar project for the Australian defence forces and was a leading employment equity researcher. She died after a brief illness following completion of the report.

In November 1998, the Human Rights Commission commended the report's recommendations to the former Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tony Birks, which he fully accepted. In brief summary, those recommendations are: * Promoting the positive benefits of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) to all personnel

* Promoting family-friendly policies and practices

* Establishing goals for an anti-harassment policy

* A strategic human resource management policy framework be established

* Commanding officers and managers be held accountable for the elimination of discrimination and harassment in their units

* EEO program objectives be linked to broader strategic planning activity and to the overall mission of NZDF

* That the NZDF establish an Equal Employment Opportunity Unit within Personnel Branch to develop an NZDF-wide strategic, long- term planning process for the effective elimination of all forms of discrimination and harassment.


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