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NZDF Building on Good Progress in Gender Equity

NZDF Building on Good Progress in Gender Equity

A new report on military women in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has found that while New Zealand compares well with other forces, continued improvement is needed in the way the Defence Force attracts and retains the people it needs to succeed in modern conflicts.

The Ministry of Defence report "Maximising Opportunities for Military Women in the New Zealand Defence Force" was released today by the Secretary of Defence, Helene Quilter, and the Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LTGEN) Tim Keating. The Review examined international literature and NZDF policies, information sourced from NZDF administration data and organisational surveys, as well as interviews with current and former NZDF personnel across a range of ranks, Services and roles.

LTGEN Keating says he welcomes the findings, which both confirmed the progress made and identified the opportunity for further improvement in gender equity.

“All trades, including combat trades, are now open to women, and family-friendly policies such as flexible working hours have been introduced,” he says. “Anti-harassment training has further improved with the introduction of a Bystander Intervention Programme, and a key finding of this report is that harassment is no longer the top issue for military women.

“We have more women in the Regular Forces than other comparable countries, but we should not be content with simply doing better than those countries. A Defence Force of only 15 percent women is missing out on a significant pool of talent in our community, and we need that talent delivering the Defence Force of the future. We also want more women in our Defence Force because we know women have been a significant success factor in the missions we have undertaken over the past decade.”

The Ministry of Defence Review concluded that in the past 15 years there has been substantial progress in gender equity in the NZDF: “Women in the military find it a safer environment, but there is still work to be done, particularly in the areas of increasing recruitment, retention and progression to senior ranks. Getting women in the door, into branches that lead to the most progression opportunities, and retaining them are the biggest challenges for the future, and more innovative recruitment, workforce planning and retention strategies need to be developed.”

Key findings of the Review include:
• The NZDF has higher female representation in the Regular Forces than the US, Australia, Canada or the UK. The NZDF has not, however, moved substantially forward on increasing the total percentage of women in Service over the past 10 years.
• In 2013, there was a greater percentage of women deployed (17.6 percent) than the percentage of women in the overall NZDF (15 percent). Internationally, Sweden was the only other country identified that sends a larger percentage of women on overseas deployments than they have in their total forces.
• Progression systems are equitable. A cohort study of NZDF personnel confirmed women’s promotional progress appeared identical to men over the first 10 years. There was also pay equity with no significant differences in the salaries of male and female personnel of the same rank.
• Women’s attrition was higher than men (that is, the rate at which women left the Defence Force), which affects the number of women rising to higher positions, as there were fewer women to promote.
• Women reported progress in the area of harassment, with harassment levels dropping by around half over the past four years. Bullying and discrimination levels were largely unchanged. Improved monitoring and interventions are needed to further reduce harassment issues, with the report highlighting recruit training as a specific area of concern.

The Ministry’s Review makes recommendations in four broad areas:

1. Recruit the best personnel by focusing on a broader potential candidate pool;
2. Expand systems to increase women’s retention;
3. Improve pathways for women to attain senior leadership roles; and
4. Further reduce discrimination, harassment and bullying, particularly in recruit training.

LTGEN Keating says a detailed work programme drawing on the findings of the Ministry’s Review is now being developed, including progress indicators, and will be complete by the middle of the year. This would be integrated in the Defence Force’s overall personnel strategy.

In addition, LTGEN Keating says there are some immediate initiatives being introduced. These include:

• a new marketing strategy focused on better reaching women candidates and targeting marketing material to women;
• new research to improve the recruit selection process, especially identifying and reducing the factors that contribute to women not completing the selection process;
• all promotion boards for the Navy, Army and Air Force having female representatives appointed to them without exception; and
• all recruit training facilities immediately being required to have a systematic tracking system focused on bullying, harassment and discrimination.

The Review is at:



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