Inclusivity and innovation key to success.
With more than 40 different ethnicities across a team of nearly 400 and 14 different languages spoken by our leaders across site alone, our team at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre (FRDC) truly is a culturally diverse bunch.
The FRDC team at the awards
The award recognises a business that is embracing the increasing cultural diversity of the region by taking action to become more inclusive in the way it conducts business.
Director of Category, Strategy and Innovation Mark Piper says he’s exceptionally proud of this award and it really is one for the whole team.
"With a diverse team comes diversity of thought and that’s a real asset to the Co-op. But what I’m most proud of is how we support our people, particularly through health awareness campaigns and community events our teams can participate in."
And while they’re already a diverse bunch, Mark says there’s still more work to be done.
“We’re working with Pūhoro STEM Academy and Dean Pasifika at Massey University to understand the challenges they face around building expertise and partnering with industry, helping to facilitate solutions where appropriate.”
They’ve already started with next year's scholarship programme to include a scholarship for Māori STEM students and another for Pasifika STEM students in addition to the general scholarships for undergraduates FRDC already offers.
Getting out and about in the community is also a way the team at FRDC give back to the region. Employees can take one day off a year to volunteer. What started as an informal arrangement has become policy as the benefits of teams or individuals taking time off to volunteer in the community became clear.
Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Haylee Putaranui says D&I comes in many forms, and this is Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in its broadest sense. “It’s great to see the team getting recognition from their local community, and it’s exciting to see how the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, can also have a positive impact on those in our communities.”
As first-time entrants into the local business awards the team walked away with two awards, the second for Excellence in Innovation, which recognises organisations that have enhanced their success through innovation both and thinking and implementing an idea.
Mark says he was told given the resources and size of the team at FRDC they would have to be judged a bit differently to the smaller companies they were up against, which is why they entered a project that really demonstrated innovation not just in the labs, but also in ways of working – the development of the cream cheese plant at Darfield.
“It was a real cross-functional effort, so the Technical Excellence and the Darfield teams also deserve kudos for this award. Some of our employees even re-located to Canterbury for 12 months to work closely alongside the other teams.”