Dignity New Zealand

When you're living on $10 a day, spending $6 on products for your period can reduce the ability to purchase healthy and fresh food, or pay for petrol or public transport to get to work or school.

When Business Development Manager Natalie Martin heard about an initiative in New Zealand that was creating a world of period equity through its Buy-one, Give-one initiative, Natalie was keen to see how the Transport team could get involved.

Since its launch in 2016, Dignity has been focused on helping give women in New Zealand access to sanitary items in work and at school.

Partnering for impact

Dignity's General Manager Anika Speedy says that they use a 'Buy-one, Give-one' approach so that companies can provide period products to not only to their staff, but also to those who are without access to pads and tampons, causing them to miss out on education, life and work.

"Our Impact Partners, like Ventia, are delivered our Dignity package which includes Organic Initiative sanitary items, display canisters and posters to display in bathrooms and explain the initiative," Anika says.

She notes that since the New Zealand Government announced they'd be providing schools with access to free products from June this year, it's given the issue a higher profile and companies are keen to participate in initiatives like those offered by Dignity.

"The demand from community groups and charities also rose over the past 18 months with COVID," Anika says. "As the instances of unemployment and homelessness increased, so too did women's need for help with necessities like this."

The power of culture and leadership 

Natalie says that over the past seven years with Ventia she's held different management roles, and in that time, she's grown more and more interested in how culture and leadership in an organisation impacts employees. 

"I recently undertook a St Johns Ambulance mental health course, so that I could better assist any team members that are struggling with those kinds of issues," Natalie says.

And I also joined the Transport Diversity and Inclusion Working Party, so that I can be part of the movement here at Ventia that's finding solutions to the challenges we face as a business.

Natalie notes that there are many "easy wins" the business can implement, like making sure there are both male and female portaloos available at remote work sites.  

When she heard about Dignity's work, she put together a business case and presented it to Operations Manager Nick Jones, who was very supportive. 

"We're running this as a three-month trial, mostly so that we can figure out the volume of products we need," Natalie explains. "Six weeks in we've already had positive feedback, with one employee in traffic management saying she feels the company is showing they care."

The initiative also includes discounts for employees if they order other products directly through Dignity.

"There are so many benefits to this," Natalie says.

We're helping employees who may be caught out at work one day. We're helping women and teenage girls in the community. And we're advancing and normalising the conversation around period equity.

Dignity supports 195 youth and community groups across New Zealand totaling over 40,000 people. In the first quarter of 2021, Dignity gifted over 2,300 boxes of period products and welcomed 17 new Impact Partners. 

You can find out more about the work Dignity does on their website.

Pictured above: Natalie Martin (Ventia Business Development Manager) with Corrine Piu (Ventia Maintenace Manager) 
*Photo taken before current COVID- restrictions