Rather than wrapping controversies in a PR blanket, Air New Zealand has taken a more transparent approach, openly admitting its struggles with the gender pay gap, sustainability targets and a range of other issues in a Sustainability Report for 2017. It’s easy to talk about the things that are going well, but it takes a brave business to admit when things go wrong. We talk to head of communications Marie Hosking about the importance of transparency.
What was the rationale behind releasing a report that outlines where the company could make improvements?
There’s no shying away from the fact the aviation industry, including Air New Zealand, faces its share of sustainability challenges. Our people, customers and investors are also becoming increasingly interested in our sustainability performance.
We welcome this critique. Being transparent and honest is essential if we’re to measure our progress and drive change. A big part of this is acknowledging our shortcomings and where we need to push ourselves to do more.
Transparency also sets the foundation for better and stronger collaboration. Challenges such as climate change and regional inequality are complex issues that we can’t solve alone.
By being honest about our challenges, we open ourselves up to more meaningful partnerships while starting conversations with our people and other stakeholders. Sharing all this publicly makes us even more accountable and drives us to be a company that all New Zealanders can be proud of.
Why is transparency important to Air New Zealand and its brand?
Honesty is at the heart of our reputation. We don’t always get it right and will fall on our sword when we get it wrong. But we won’t be shy about celebrating success either.
Air New Zealand is proud to hold the number one corporate reputation not only in New Zealand, but Australia as well. Part of the reason we have been able to achieve this on both sides of the Tasman is by being open, honest and transparent about areas we are determined to improve. This allows us to engage and create trust with customers, stakeholders and the communities we serve.
Are there any risks involved in showing the areas the company could improve?
There will always be risk, but we feel there’s more upside than downside, particularly in relation to sustainability. The environment is core to New Zealand’s tourism brand and is a pillar of our country’s economic growth, which means we are all in this together in terms of finding solutions.
Would you like to see other brands follow suit?
By highlighting our own shortcomings, other organisations may take stock and consider where they can make their own improvements.
What’s exciting about our sustainability journey is seeing Air New Zealanders embrace our mission and take pride in what we are seeking to achieve. For us, the key to making change is ultimately in the hands of our 12,000 people.
This story originally appeared in the Special edition of NZ Marketing magazine to celebrate the Stoppies.
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