Taking care of business
The BusinessNZ Network is here to take care of businesses – in fact, thousands of businesses throughout New Zealand.
The Network is an umbrella group covering enterprises providing business services and advocacy, as well as enterprises representing industries important to the New Zealand economy.
BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says most Kiwi companies have a connection with the Network.
“Our members and affiliates are everywhere – from the tiny corner dairy through to large exporters earning millions in overseas revenue,” Kirk says.
“It’s a huge privilage to walk alongside some of the most fantastic businesses in New Zealand.”
Among the many initiatives undertaken by the Network, Kirk points to the Buy NZ-Made Campaign as an example of grass-roots businesses helping themselves using provenance marketing collateral created under the BusinessNZ Network.
“New Zealand companies are very well served by the Buy NZ-Made Campaign – it’s a great system for branding a business and encouraging consumers to buy local. We have many businesses using the branding to spur loyalty in the hearts of Kiwi shoppers.
“The Buy NZ-made campaign has been going for over 30 years now, doing a genuinely good job promoting locally-made products and the people and companies that make them.
“As a result, just about anyone in New Zealand recognises the logo of the little stylized kiwi in a triangle.
“A lot of the businesses signed up to Buy NZ-Made operate in provincial areas as craft operators or manufacturers, often making inventive new products. They really like the fact that Buy NZ-Made is there for them.
“It’s one of the joys of being involved in a membership organisation – just fantastic members.”
As well as supporting smaller businesses, the BusinessNZ Network also works to add value to the largest businesses in New Zealand.
For example, the Network also includes the Major Companies Group – a grouping of New Zealand’s largest and most successful companies, working collaboratively to advocate for a better business environment. The chief executives of the big companies are able to take part in Network strategy sessions and as a group advise the Government on laws and policies affecting business.
Another example is ExportNZ – a grouping of Kiwi exporters that come together to share exporting knowledge and celebrate success in the sector.
The group provides advocacy and lobbying on behalf of exporters, practical support programmes and networking events to help exporters achieve their goals, and inspires other firms to take up exporting in order to expand and grow internationally.
ExportNZ also holds regional export awards around the country which are always hotly contested, as exporters vie for top honours.
One of the most innovative of the many groupings under the BusinessNZ Network is the Sustainable Business Council or SBC.
This is a group of businesses that are focused on taking action to build a low-emissions, climate resilient and sustainable future, where people, business and nature can thrive.
Most enterprises have some kind of impact on water, earth or the air when involved in farming, manufacturing, transporting or other form of business – SBC members sign up to meet a number of commitments to demonstrate how they’re taking action to tackle these challenges.
Over the course of their membership SBC companies make a range of binding commitments, including to begin to measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, make sustainable purchasing decisions, and formally report on their actions in their annual reports; and if they don’t live up to their commitments they may be asked to relinquish their membership of the SBC.
Companies operating within SBC are reducing emissions by such means as electrifying their heavy vehicles and vehicle fleets, using biofuels instead of coal, installing solar panels and LEDs, and offsetting emissions through forestry credits.
They are also working hard to support their people by delivering a range of new and innovative social sustainability activities.
SBC companies have put a line in the sand, and are determined to demonstrate environmental, social and governance sustainability leadership to all other New Zealand businesses, Kirk says.
“It’s absolutely fantastic to have this influential group of businesses as a core part of the BusinessNZ Network.”
Kirk says other parts of the BusinessNZ Network look after specific kinds of businesses, including manufacturers, energy-related companies and businesses located in different regions of New Zealand.
“As well as helping firms succeed and grow, a key part of our work is in advocating for a better business environment in which to operate.
“Our members recognise that laws and regulations have the potential to either help or harm business, and they are keen to have a strong voice advocating for business in the halls of power.
“A lot of my work as chief executive of BusinessNZ consists of advocacy to Government, politicians and other decision-makers, based on policy work undertaken by our team of analysts and economists.”
The BusinessNZ Network’s policy team analyses proposed policies and laws relating to business, and makes recommendations to Government based on feedback from businesses in the Network.
Key issues currently exercising the minds of members include tax, skills and employment relations.
“Our business members are very aware that a lower tax rate is a competitive advantage – both for a company and a country – and they are keen to have ongoing advocacy aimed at reducing the tax burden on businesses in New Zealand.
“BusinessNZ was happy to be a part of the most recent official Tax Working Group set up to advise on future tax directions for New Zealand, and it was helpful to be able to focus on the tax needs of businesses as part of that exercise.”
Kirk Hope says another issue concerning businesses is the difficulty many have in finding staff with the right qualifications and experience.
“Skills shortages are always a big issue in New Zealand – it’s a fact of life that a small country with a population of only 5 million will always struggle to find enough appropriately-skilled staff. The BusinessNZ Network is advocating for changes to the education system to ensure the best-possible pipeline of skilled Kiwis emerges from school and higher education. There’s also a lot of advocacy directed at improving the country’s immigration system, so businesses can have a good chance of hiring skills from overseas to fill any gaps.
“Employment relations is another area where businesses need ongoing assistance. Employment regulations are often the first to change following a change in government, in areas such as collective bargaining, minimum wage rates or inclusion policies. The BusinessNZ Network is able to keep abreast of changes and advise businesses about any new regulatory requirements that might arise.”
Kirk Hope says the BusinessNZ Network will continue to advocate and act on behalf of enterprises to best carry out its mission of ‘taking care of business’ in New Zealand.
AT A GLANCE
What: An association dedicated to advocating for enterprise and promoting the voice of thousands of businesses across New Zealand, working for positive change through new thinking, productivity and innovation
Where: Wellington, New Zealand