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Diversity and inclusion - it matters

The WoolOn team has been busy making improvements to the way we work, with the aim of decreasing barriers to participation and actively widening diversity to better reflect our communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

As an organisation that champions sustainability from farm to fashion through the promotion of wool, we acknowledge the intersection between environmentalism and economy, social justice and creativity.

Fashion is not exclusive, fashion is a creative pursuit that knows no boundaries.

The WoolOn Society uses fashion to open up the possibilities of wool to all. We believe promoting wool from the farm to the cat walk will lead to a future where we are kinder to our planet and people thrive. Where everyone our organisation touches feels accepted, valued, respected and understood.

We believe by nourishing a community of inclusion and belonging from a place of warmth, honesty and kindness, we have the power to change not only WoolOn, but the people we touch, and the world.

We are all Change Makers, and to ensure WoolOn is guided forward, held accountable and success measured, we have developed and adopted a policy to guide us in decision-making. It will continually improve and evolve.

However, the most important thing is that we have acted, and we have further actions that we will implement before the next WoolOn events in 2022.

We have already implemented the following improvements for 2021:

1. Widened the diversity of voices on the WoolOn Governance committee. Young people are not simply youth voices, they are committee members with equal voting rights.

2. Paired school-age designers with experienced crafters, to pass on skills and encourage a new generation in wool fashion and crafting.

3. Removal of gender-specific categories.

4. Wider size range for entries, with the option to create a garment of any size if a model is available.

5. Models sourced from the community, and training provided. Physical requirements now only relate to garment entry sizes – no other restrictions.

6. Matinee session as an addition to the WoolOn events, to include people who don’t want or are unable to get out to evening events.

7. Bus service option offered, so people who don’t drive or don’t want to drive on winter nights can attend the WoolOn events.

8. Collaboration with Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery and Alexandra Spinners and Weaver, to offer a community Expo on the Sunday after the WoolOn Gala night. The Expo has a key focus of community and learning, with workshops and displays. Entry is by donation.

9. Video of 2021 event to be created for the purpose of increasing access to WoolOn for people in our communities, plus education and skill development in preparation for the 2022 event.

The key pillars guiding us in improving diversity and inclusion are:

Whakaanga – Engaging with others

We aim to ensure that we engage as widely as possible, and reduce barriers to participation with WoolOn. We will respond to individual needs with flexibility and accept feedback with openness.

Whakawai ētahi atu – Influencing others

We aim to lead by example, influencing change in order to implement true equality for all who interact with WoolOn.

We aim to provide education and learning opportunities that support success and be mindful of ways to support wide participation.

Mahi tahi - Collaboration

The principle of mahi tahi is more than engaging with others. Mahi tahi engenders collaboration with collective responsibility, accountability and commitment to support and care for each other throughout all endeavours.

We aim to collaborate with groups and individuals to achieve the best outcomes for people, communities, and for the wool and fashion industries.

Te irirangi me te tirohanga – our brand and visual identity

Our visual content is the first experience most people will have with WoolOn. As such, we want to ensure that in whatever way we communicate, everyone feels represented, respected and understood.

“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google


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