Message from Mike Bennetts, CEO


Message from Mike Bennetts, CEO

Every year, Z runs it annual “Safety Day” event. This began in 2010 when we first transitioned to Z from Shell and was, at the time, management’s way of reinforcing the importance of health and safety in our business.

We invited all of Z’s employees to Wellington to talk about safety. Not everyone was able to be there given operational requirements but more than 90% of the company attended. There was real symbolism from getting everyone from around the country into one place to discuss health and safety.

Since then Safety Day has grown and expanded. It has now got to be such a big event, at more than 600 people, that it is held over two days with half the participants attending one of the two days. 50% of the participants are not our employees and we have included our Board, key stakeholders (like suppliers and regulators) and some of our key customers. Many of these come back year after year often requesting that they bring one or more of their colleagues along with them given the impact that was made on them.

Most importantly Safety Day is no longer a management led event. After that first event back in 2010, members of our team stepped forward and said they wanted to design and deliver future Safety Days. Each year we ask for volunteers and easily get 20-30 people putting their hands up to do something beyond their day jobs. They get two benefits from this – the chance to make the difference they are committed to with health and safety, and to get after some of their personal development, e.g. publicly speaking in front of 300 people, project managing one of the sessions for the day, working across teams, and so on.

Now Z is clearly not in the conference business so why bother to go to the time and expense to invite people beyond our employee base? We do this because we are committed to what we call ‘thought leadership’. While Wikipedia defines thought leadership as “an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialised field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded”, we have a slightly different view. We reckon thought leadership is about using our voice to set the industry agenda for progress and innovation while being a force for good within our business community.

Z is willing to share its experiences, the good and the bad, in three areas – health and safety, sustainability, and leadership and culture. These are the areas where we reckon our good and bad experiences can help other companies on their own journeys towards being the best they can be. That’s another way of demonstrating that Z is for New Zealand and we will be prepared to step in and have a say on things that matter to our customers, our communities, and our country.

That is why we are active with progressive submissions in areas like climate change, smoke free NZ, and workplace health and safety. You can read more about these and other topics through this link:

Many of these submissions are generated with the explicit input of our employees. Like Safety Day, this thought leadership is no longer the exclusive domain of the bosses and our submissions are of a better quality because our teams get to have a say. That’s one of the things I am most proud of about Z, and that is why Safety Day is one of the highlights of my year – our people having a say about what matters to them.

Mike Bennetts, CEO