ConneXu and Pink Shirt Day a perfect match

Laura Etz and Kelly Smith know first-hand the impact bullying can have on others, especially when it comes to the people they serve at ConneXu, a disability support provider based in Te Awamutu.

ConneXu works  in collaboration with people living with disabilities and their families to help them live a meaningful life - one connected to their community and free from stigma and discrimination. 

For all these reasons and more, ConneXu and Pink Shirt Day are a perfect fit. 

“We support people living with disability, so a lot of the people that we're supporting have been subjected to bullying or discrimination for just being themselves, basically their entire lives. So for us, it's really important.

“Our mission is around building communities that are empowered by the people that we support. Inclusiveness is just vitally important to everything that we do.… So it would seem ridiculous not to get people supporting and staff involved in something like Pink Shirt Day.”

ConneXu first became involved in Pink Shirt Day last year, encouraging both staff and the people they support to decorate their own pink t-shirt and then model it in a Pink Shirt Day fashion show. 

“We all just get out there and strut our stuff... [There’s] prizes for the best slogan, the most colourful, the best meaning... and participation awards for everybody.”

The inclusion of handwritten slogans on their pink t-shirts is a special way ConneXu has made their own stamp on Pink Shirt Day. “I think the slogans come from the heart, perhaps maybe what they've been through, the values that everyone's the same and it's all about love.”

This year ConneXu are expanding the fashion show to their operation in Tauranga, out of the co-working space The Kollective.

“At the Kollective we've decided to order some reusable bags to use all year round with the slogans, to keep promoting the message even after the day is done and dusted.”

The Tauranga office will also be hosting a pink morning tea with other organisations in their co-working space, including a pink cake and pink decorations, like the official Pink Shirt Day bunting.

Ultimately, ConneXu sees standing up against bullying as a core part of their mission, with Pink Shirt Day serving as a key event on a year-round calendar of workplace wellbeing initiatives. “We have something every month we’re trying to focus on, everything from the physical health of our staff through nutrition, to mental health and exercise.”

For businesses keen to follow in ConneXu’s footsteps and get involved in Pink Shirt Day, Laura and Kelly urge you to give it a go. 

“It’s really the way of the future, isn't it? Work is no longer just a place where you come in, you plug away and, you know, it's a mindless environment. It's got to encompass being more mindful and connected and kind. 

“Through doing activities like Pink Shirt Day, we show that we are an open community where you can come and talk to whomever you want and we encourage people to actually just sit down and care about other people that are around them.”

Every year, one in 10 workers in Aotearoa report being bullied in the workplace. By celebrating Pink Shirt Day or fundraising for the kaupapa, your workplace becomes part of the movement to end bullying, celebrate diversity and spread aroha and kindness.

Keen to get your workplace involved in Pink Shirt Day this year? Download our Workplace Bullying Prevention Resource focused on how to create a positive workplace environment where mana-enhancing, open communication is the norm so bullying cannot thrive.

Download Workplace Bullying Prevention Resource

“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”