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Napier business recognised for inclusive attitude

October 12, 2015

Napier business recognised for inclusive attitude

Genera Limited has been employing New Zealanders since 1975. Now the biosecurity company at Napier Port is being recognised for its inclusiveness when it comes to recruiting staff with disabilities.

Genera has been selected as a finalist in the ACC Employer Award category in the 2015 Attitude Awards. The national awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of Kiwis living with disabilities.

Genera’s Napier operations manager Gavin Smales first got in touch with Workbridge (an equal employment agency) three years ago. Since then he has employed workers with a range of disabilities including dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome, mental illness, staff who are amputees, have cancer or are recovering addicts.

But Gavin insists that he doesn’t hire people with disabilities – he simply hires people who can do the job. Gavin can see capability rather than disability and has a passionate workforce to show for it.

“I’ve found the attitude of the staff we’ve got from Workbridge is much better than your average Joe Blogs off the street,” he says.

“They really want to work so they do a good job.”

From starting on casual contracts, three of Gavin’s Workbridge-sourced staff now hold permanent positions at the company. Gavin supports staff with disabilities just as he supports all his staff: through on-the-job training, a buddy system and licensing. They are also given the opportunity to travel the country to Genera’s offices at other major ports.

Workbridge were so impressed with Gavin’s approach that they nominated Genera for the Attitude ACC Employer Award.

“The success of these employees is down to Genera and specifically Gavin. The business is helping to ensure the ongoing support and employment of clients with disabilities” says Lynne Gibson from Workbridge Hawkes Bay.

Genera’s Whangarei office has also been using Workbridge to find staff and two employees with disabilities now hold permanent positions there. Similarly, Genera’s Tauranga management team are now looking to Workbridge for recruitment.

Gavin and the Genera team will find out if they have won at a black-tie gala on World Disability Day, December 3 at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre.

There are eight categories in the 2015 Attitude Awards: Courage in Sport, Spirit of Attitude, Making a Difference, Artistic Achievement, Youth, Junior, the Attitude ACC Employer Award and Sport Performer of the Year. The overall winner of the Attitude ACC Supreme Award is selected from the category winners and a People’s Choice winner and Hall of Fame inductee are also announced on the night.

Attitude Awards Trustee Dan Buckingham, a member of the elite national wheelchair rugby team the Wheel Blacks, says: “It's always an exciting time here at Attitude as we find out who the finalists are and count down to the big night. The Awards reflect what Attitude is all about – sharing stories that prove people with disabilities can overcome adversity and achieve greatness, whether that be big or small.”

“We thank our fantastic family of sponsors who allow us to present the Attitude Awards year on year. Collectively we are changing people’s view of what is achievable when someone lives with a disability.”

Dan encourages everyone to visit in early November to see short films of the finalists and to vote for the person most deserving of the ‘People’s Choice Award’.

Chief Executive of ACC Scott Pickering says ACC is proud to be principal sponsor of the awards for the eighth year, including sponsorship of the Attitude ACC Employer Award and the Attitude ACC Supreme Award.

“The Attitude ACC Employer Award is important because it reminds us that we all benefit when we look at what we can do, rather than what we can’t,” says Mr Pickering.

“We all have a role to play in ensuring we live in an inclusive society. It’s great to share the experiences of the finalists and I hope that other employers can learn from and be inspired by them”.

Other Sponsors supporting the Awards include: Westpac, Drake Medox, Ministry of Health, Barfoot & Thompson, IHC Foundation, Air New Zealand, Lion Foundation, Invacare and the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust.

For tickets to the Attitude Awards gala evening on December 3 contact Sue Wales-Earl at or phone 09 378 1564.


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