Following an internal investigation by NZ Rugby into an incident involving a woman called Scarlette and members of the Chiefs, the Commission, alongside a number of prominent kiwi women and New Zealanders, called for change.
An open letter, that was published on the Sep 8 2016, called for NZ Rugby to act with courage and address the issues with the organisations culture and judiciary process.
Since then, EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue has met with the Chief Executive of NZ Rugby Steve Tew and talked to him about how NZ Rugby can embed human rights in their practice and address the culture issues within their organisation and the sport.
“These recommendations include developing a Human Rights policy, ensuring their disciplinary process is legally robust and protects vulnerable people such as children, or those who have laid complaints of a sexual nature, taking steps to ensure diverse representation across NZ Rugby’s governance and management structure and supporting more diverse people into management roles.
More recently, NZ Rugby appointed Eleanor Butterworth to the role of Respect and Responsibility project manager.
“Setting up an independent review of respect and responsibility in the professional environment and Ms Butterworth's appointment indicates a commitment to improving the culture of NZ Rugby. We wish them well as they seek to regain the trust and mana of everyday New Zealanders who signed our open letter for cultural change.”
Dr Blue says the focus should now be on creating a more diverse national board and continuing to build on the diversity that already exists at a grassroots level.
“Diversity on their national board should be top of the agenda, like it already is in provincial rugby unions and international sporting bodies such as FIFA who have recently appointed Kiwi woman, Sarai Bareman, as their Chief Women’s Football Officer,” Dr Blue says.
“NZ Rugby can learn a lot from heartland rugby where boards and management do a better job of diversity than the national organisation.”