Fast Four Questions: Air NZ’s Christopher Luxon

Christopher Luxon has been CEO at Air New Zealand since 2013. New Zealanders’ most attractive employer is renowned for its savvy, humourous branding and marketing, innovative use of technology and friendly kiwi service. Luxon sat down with Global Women to talk about how recruiting for diverse talent keeps Air New Zealand one step ahead.


Global Women (GW): What techniques do you use at Air New Zealand to mitigate unconscious bias in recruitment?

Christopher Luxon (CL): Talent Acquisition (TA) act as “talent coaches” throughout the hiring process and help to ensure that our leaders continually improve the inclusiveness of our practices and candidate experience. TA has developed a Recruitment Excellence programme that ensures our hiring managers are educated about unconscious bias before they lead a recruitment process. This encompasses many aspects of conducting robust interviews and creating a great candidate experience. 20% of the course material focuses on unconscious bias training which includes classroom-based training, sharing and reflecting on the diverse recruitment experiences with other leaders and video content.

Our aspiration is for all frontline leaders new to the business to complete the workshop. To date, 116 hiring managers and interview panel assessors have participated.

We unlock analytical insight on external market demographics and conversion-to-hire rates of the gender and ethnically diverse talent pools we build. This helps us to constantly assess who we are hiring and helps to identify patterns in hiring behaviour and to have the right discussions when it comes to building diverse teams.


GW: How do you ensure you are recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates?

CL: Our recruiters create strategic sourcing plans for their portfolio, informed by diversity opportunities for the business that ensure we search broadly and deeply for talent. Critical to this is our proactive search capability using technology as well as technical skill to discover under-represented talent that may not respond to traditional media and attraction techniques.

More broadly, our employer brand strategy ensures that we share the diversity of our people and their career journeys to attract diverse applicants. Our award-winning Careers website was refreshed in 2017 and presents a diverse range of our employees and their stories authentically, as well as demonstrating our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion. This reinforces our desirability to diverse candidates and helps to maintain our status as New Zealand’s Most Attractive Employer (Randstad Award).


GW: Does recruiting for diversity penalise anyone?

CL: Recruiting for diverse talent isn’t about discriminating against others. It is about ensuring that we have the opportunity to search a pool of talent that traditionally have not been accurately represented in our talent pipelines.

New Zealand is an incredibly diverse country with the demographic landscape shifting, if we want to ensure we have access to all of the great talent that is available we need to ensure we are looking in the right places and appeal to a wide range of talent from diverse backgrounds.

This is an opportunity for businesses to identify a gap in the reach of their recruitment. It’s about finding the brightest talent from the biggest pool and recognising and promoting the benefits that diversity brings to the organisation.

We want to be an attractive employer to a diverse talent pool and ensure everyone identified goes through an inclusive recruitment process which will ultimately enable us to find the best talent for the role. While our processes have supported a 22% increase in women in leadership, nobody could question that the best person for the role was successful.


GW: Air New Zealand is famed for its innovative use of technology. How, if at all, have you integrated technology into recruiting for diversity?

CL: TA is constantly evaluating products and technology that help us innovate in the competition for Talent and provide greater visibility of and engagement with diverse candidates. Most recently, we have adopted new digital tools that can search significantly larger datasets than ever before, anonymise candidate profiles to reduce unconscious bias, and enhance search results for gender diverse talent. We have also partnered with technology providers to create ethnically diverse search functionality. Technology is a vital part of the educative and consultative toolkit that recruiters use to empower our leaders to achieve our Diversity and Inclusion aspirations.