We’re part of the 2019 cohort of the New Zealand-based Darden Executive Programme, which is a collaboration between EY New Zealand and the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in the USA. The programme is designed to challenge participants to push their limits in leadership and strategy. It is currently in its 26th year of delivery in New Zealand and alumni now number more than 1,400.

We graduated from the programme on 15th March – the day of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

A large part of the Darden executive programme is focused on diversity and inclusion and the continuing need for leaders across business, Government and the non-profit sector to lead the way in acknowledging, understanding and embracing diversity.

These discussions and learnings have inspired us to commit and contribute to influencing positive societal change in our country.

We are asking all New Zealand leaders from across business, Government, the non-profit sector, the community and iwi to support this Open Letter; to become a signatory and commit to taking action that promotes diversity, embraces difference and supports inclusion within your organisations.

As our country comes to terms with the events of 15th March it is strong leadership based on aroha and respect that will help to empower change and forge a pathway forward to build a better future for all New Zealanders.

The 2019 cohort has established a working group for this initiative. Members are:

  • Aaron Kenny, Strategic Finance Manager, Synlait Milk Limited

  • Ben Grant, Founder and Director, Grounded Packaging

  • Bridget Jolly, Associate Director, Ernst & Young Limited

  • Darryn Grant, Manager City Growth & Strategic Property, Porirua City

  • Jane Small, Group Manager Property & Planning, Auckland Transport

  • Ruth Russell, Associate Director, Ernst & Young Limited

  • Sharon Davies, Founder and Director, Talent Propeller

  • Sonya Haggie, Communications Advisor, Tainui Group Holdings

  • Vanessa Rayner, Manager Industry Insights & Thematics, Reserve Bank of NZ