The Winter Pride Festival took on a slightly more serious note today when over 100 senior executives from the business community came together to discuss what diversity and inclusion in the workplace actually looks like.
Out to Lunch! Pride in Business lunch was orchestrated by Winter Pride Festival organiser Marty King partnering with the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce. It included a panel discussion with Lizzi Whaley – CEO 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 Organiser. Well-known global diversity & inclusion executive and public speaker Mary Haddock-Staniland cleverly facilitated the discussions.
Rachel Clifford, Events and Marketing Manager for the Queenstown Chamber, says the event elevated an important conversation that every business in Aotearoa should be having.
“Today’s event was amazing. A key theme to come out of the discussions was that gender and sexuality are not a choice – workplaces need to consult, bring people on the journey to help teach and learn, and this comes down to leadership,” says Clifford.
One such business leader is Greg Simms, a partner at national law firm Wynn Williams, that sponsored the event. He spoke 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 at university that one day, I’d become a partner in a law firm where the majority of partners are women and I wouldn’t be the first gay partner, I don’t think I would have believed it, says Simms.
“It’s so important for people to be able to be themselves, at work as well as 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 Pride celebrations in New Zealand.
The Winter Pride Festival in Queenstown runs until Sunday 4 September.