How To Create Safe and Respectful Workplaces:

Brought to you by TradeCareers, Waihanga Ara Rau Workforce Development Council and BCITO Te Pūkenga

"It might come down to how it’s said, but it might also come down to that person who's receiving that comment and their experiences to date, their culture, their expectations and their role - all kinds of things can come into play." - Amy Crookston, Lead Consultant - Community Mobilisation & Organisational Development, RespectEd Aotearoa, She/Her

Developing safe and respectful workplaces in the trades can lead to a more positive work environment, better job satisfaction, and improved productivity.  Sounds good, right?

Doing this requires a proactive approach that prioritises employee well-being and fosters a culture of respect, inclusion, and collaboration.

Here are some tips on how to achieve this:

Lead by example

Leaders play a critical role in setting the tone for workplace culture. Be clear with your team what you expect and ensure you are modelling respectful behaviour. Managers and supervisors can also help to create a more positive work environment by treating all employees with dignity and respect, promoting fairness and transparency, and addressing any issues or concerns promptly and effectively.  The qualities of good leadership include honesty, fairness, ethical behaviour, and making sure your words and actions are consistent with your values. Make sure they are in your business.

Promote open communication

Open communication is essential to a respectful workplace. Employees should feel comfortable discussing any concerns or issues they may have, without fear of retaliation or judgement. You can do this through regular meetings, feedback sessions, and employee surveys. Make sure everyone knows there is someone they can talk to and raise any concerns. Most trades workplaces will have a Health and Safety Officer, try working with them to help build a culture of open communication. It can help to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts and foster a more collaborative work environment, everything a modern business needs!

Provide resources for mental health and wellness

The trades can be a physically demanding and stressful industry, which can take a toll on employees' mental health and well-being. Burnout, anxiety, depression and suicide are all far too common in our industry. You could start by introducing a daily check-in with your teams to find out what’s on top for people or encourage your teams to check in with each other beyond

“All good”

Get to know their whānau, understand more about who they are outside of work but be respectful. Be okay with people not being okay and, most importantly, be kind to each other. Everyone has something going on that will affect their mental health. If you need support on how to help manage this in your workplace, reach out to Mates In Construction and find out more about their programmes.

Establish clear safety protocols and procedures

One of the most important ways to develop a safe workplace is to establish clear safety protocols and procedures. This includes providing safety training for all employees, enforcing safety guidelines, and regularly reviewing and updating safety protocols as necessary. Remember, we are talking about both physical and emotional safety. This leads us to the Keep it Decent Guidelines.

These guidelines have been developed to help you learn more about what sexual harassment and bullying is and how to deal with it.

I think it would help if employers could have a discussion with their tradies about whether they would like their little sister, daughter or granddaughter being spoken to like that. I think it's very simple to say “hey if you wouldn't say that in front of your boss, why are you saying that to her?” - Paris Benāy Kataraina Mitchell, Third Year Apprentice - Alloy Boat Builder, She/Her

It comes down to 5 basic principles, and if you take anything away from here, let it be this.

Keep It Decent.

1. Being our best.

We are kind, fair, honest, and constructive. In our industry everyone is welcome.

2. Calling it out.

We shut down and report all kinds of harassment. There is no place for racist, sexist, homophobic or discriminatory talk in our industry. Victimisation of any person who raises a complaint is unlawful. When we see or hear harassment or bullying happen, many of us stand by and don’t speak up. It is not good enough.

3. Bringing out the great in others.

We are open to – and respectful of – viewpoints and perspectives that differ from our own. Our differences don’t divide us. They make us better. As an industry, our greatest asset is our people. We all bring a unique set of backgrounds, experiences, and skills to our work, and that’s a great thing. It helps make us more successful.

4. High-five the good stuff.

We all lead by showing good examples. Basically, don’t be a muppet.

5. Emphasise diversity and inclusion

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is crucial for fostering respect among employees. This includes hiring a diverse workforce, providing equal opportunities for advancement, and promoting a culture of respect for all individuals, regardless of their background. By emphasising diversity and inclusion, you can help to reduce discrimination and bias, and create a more welcoming and supportive work environment for everyone.

If you need support, the following organisations are available for people:

  • Hey Bro helpline - supporting men to be free from violence 0800 HeyBro (439 276)
  • Need to talk? Free call or text: 1737 for mental health support from a trained counsellor
  • Safe to Talk sexual harm helpline: 0800 044334, text: 4334, email:
  • Rape Crisis: 0800 88 33 00
  • Women's Refuge: 0800 733 843
  • Shine domestic abuse services free call: 0508 744 633 (24/7, Live Webchat is also available)
  • Family violence information line to find out about local services or how to help someone else: 0800 456 450
  • Youthline  0800 376 633, free text: 234, email:
  • Shakti - for migrant and refugee women - 0800 742 584 - 24 hours
  • Wellington Help  for individuals, whānau and communities affected by sexual abuse in the Wellington Region: 04 801 6655 & push 0 at the menu - 24 hours
  • Help Auckland for individuals, whānau and communities affected by sexual abuse in the Auckland Region:40800 623 1700 Text 8236 - 24 hours.
  • Victim Support