Following Labour’s great election win back in October, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed the most diverse cabinet in the nation’s history, a move seen to be a positive and progressive step in the right direction.
In terms of the figures within the new cabinet of twenty, eight are women, five are Māori, three are LGBTQ+ and three are Pasifika. Additional to the cabinet itself, NZ has elected the nation’s first Latin American and African MP’s, further exemplifying signs of real progress.
It is clear through her cabinet appointments that Prime Minister Ardern wants to overturn the years of minority group underrepresentation whilst she holds office, increasing representation of groups who have historically been left out on the political stage.
A significant appointment was the nations first-ever Indigenous female foreign affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta, who four years ago also became the first member of parliament to wear a moko kauae, a traditional Māori tattoo, on her chin. This appointment no doubt evidences the importance of Māori culture to the nation at an international level.
Promotion of diversity in any workplace is essential to creating a well-rounded society that comprises a multitude of experiences, perspectives, talents and skills. Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK has found that good people practices in the workplace benefits employees, the organisations and wider society through the way that inclusivity can improve contributions, allow for different perspectives, and foster growth.
In light of such research, the way in which New Zealand is increasingly implementing inclusion at government level really sets the tone, and paves the way for employers across all sectors to follow its government’s example and shift to these same practices.
Yet, despite this historical win for diversity on New Zealand’s political stage, there are still further improvements to be made, and the government should certainly not stop here.
Whilst changes made in November were a real positive, certain minority groups such as disabled people are still largely underrepresented. This is something that needs to be considered in light of the fact that previous studies have found that those with disabilities make up nearly a quarter of the nation’s population.
Whilst the underrepresentation of certain minority groups still remains an issue, the announcement of Ardern’s new cabinet as she enters her second term was undoubtedly a progressive and enlightening step in the right direction. This cabinet has shaped up to be one of the most diverse and inclusive in the world, and it can be hoped that other nations follow Ardern’s lead.