The Winter Pride Festival took on a slightly more serious note today when more than 100 senior business executives gathered to discuss what diversity and inclusion in the workplace really looks like.
Go out for lunch! The Pride in Business luncheon was orchestrated by Marty King, organizer of the Winter Pride Festival, in partnership with the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce. It included a panel discussion with Lizzi Whaley – CEO of Spaceworks Interior Architecture, Paula Williams – Chief People Officer at Mediaworks, Simon Clark – Regional Communication & PR Director of Oceania at Booking.com, and Martin King – Director South Pacific Pride & Winter Pride Festival Organizer. Mary Haddock-Staniland, a well-known diversity and inclusion executive and public speaker, cleverly moderated the discussions.
Rachel Clifford, events and marketing manager for the Queenstown Chamber, said the event sparked an important conversation that all businesses in Aotearoa should be having.
“Today’s event was amazing. A key theme that emerged from the discussions was that gender and sexuality is not a choice – workplaces need to consult, bring people into the path to help teach and learn, and that comes down to leadership,” says Clifford.
One such business leader is Greg Simms, a partner at national law firm Wynn Williams, which sponsored the event. He talked about diversity as a strength and shared his experiences as a member of the rainbow community in the corporate world.
“If someone had told me when I was in college that one day I would become a partner in a law firm where the majority of the partners are women and that I wouldn’t be the first gay partner, I don’t think I would have believed him, said Simms.
“It’s so important that people can be themselves, at work and outside of work. We have a professional and moral responsibility to do what we can to continue building and contributing to a culture and community that embraces our differences,” adds Simms.
This event was the first of its kind to take place during New Zealand’s Pride celebrations.
The Winter Pride Festival in Queenstown runs until Sunday 4th September.