The benefits of being an NZEE member

Humans have always sought belonging, from ancient tribal groups to modern business associations, clubs, and societies. Today, social media represents the latest evolution of this trend, offering nearly limitless opportunities for like-minded individuals to connect and exchange views online.

This shift has led to a decline in traditional club memberships.  People no longer see formal membership as necessary to engage in club activities or to support a club’s principles.  Many are willing to participate in and financially contribute to club activities without officially joining.  Research done into this trend is showing that close to 50% of survey participants will participate in the club activities provided the activities are meeting their needs, that they will pay for participation, but that they will not become members.

Some clubs have responded by emphasising membership and excluding non-members.  Such exclusivity can lead to financial struggles and a shortage of capable volunteers, causing clubs to fail.

In contrast, other clubs have adopted a more inclusive approach, welcoming non-members into their activities.  Non-members can be made to pay their own way, and even pay more than members, providing a financial benefit to the club.  The key difference is the formal membership status, not the level of support or participation desired.

NZ Ethical Employers (NZEE) is an incorporated society where membership is a privilege granted by the Board based on membership applicants meeting independently audited standards.  The Board has the discretion to admit or decline membership based on the applicant’s adherence to exemplary employment practices aimed at eliminating worker exploitation and modern slavery.

 Key Components of a Strong Membership Application

  1. Compliance: Demonstrating a robust compliance culture is essential. Applicants must have appropriate certifications, such as a CAV from Zespri for kiwifruit work or NZGap or GlobalGAP certifications for other crop work.
  2. Ethical Standards:Applicants must go beyond minimum legal requirements to demonstrate best practice employment. This includes offering pastoral support, flexible working arrangements, training, and other worker benefits.  The application should compellingly demonstrate why workers would choose to work for the applicant beyond just their wages.  In addition the applicant needs to be committed to developing procedures to identify and remove work exploitation.
  3. Reputation: NZEE’s reputation is paramount. The Board needs to be assured that the applicant will enhance, not tarnish, NZEE's reputation.  This involves the applicant being able to provide positive feedback from clients and potentially positive feedback from authorities like Immigration NZ or MSD.

 Benefits of Membership:

Members who meet these standards and pass the independent audit gain several advantages:

  1. Commitment to Excellence: Publicly affirming a commitment to exceeding legal requirements and upholding human rights. To be known as an ethical employment organisation.
  2. Attracting Capable Workers: Establishing a reputation as a great company to work for, making it easier to attract skilled workers.
  3. Consumer Confidence: Ensuring produce such as grapes, apples, or kiwifruit meet best practice human rights standards, appealing to consumers.
  4. Industry Leadership: Setting an example for the contracting industry and guiding others towards best practices.

 Support for Unsuccessful Applicants: Applicants who do not meet the required standards will receive guidance to develop and achieve these standards, provided they commit to significant improvements.

 NZEE Increasing Popular: Becoming a member of NZEE is increasingly popular as contractors aim to improve conditions for their workers and tell their good employment story to consumers becoming known as an ethical employer.

 Mike Chapman,

Chair New Zealand Ethical Employers Inc