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What we learned from 2021

As the year draws to a close, many will remember 2021 as a year of tremendous uncertainty and personal sacrifice, lived in the looming and ever-present shadow of Covid-19.


But it was also a year of opportunity, generosity, wisdom, and hope.


Here are a few of the lessons we take from 2021.


It’s OK to ask for help


Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, and those who are unafraid to ask are the better for it. Sylvia, 94, who we wrote about in March, is a great example. She needed some help switching from paying her bills by cheque, to a more modern, digital method. Her granddaughter Emma was only too happy to help.


The impact of March’s Covid-19 lockdown also prompted some of our home loan customers to reach out to us for help, opting to either defer their repayments, or switch their loans to interest-only. By April, we saw many of these customers had resumed paying off their loans again.


Our story about Hawke’s Bay businessman Rob Beard also reinforced the importance of understanding your own limitations. Rob’s small goods businesses were booming, but with success came a lot of work – in Rob’s case, it was too much. He suffered a heart attack, and then hit the wall. He realised that what he was doing was unsustainable, and now - after accepting help from those around him - he’s happier than ever, business is good, and he has more time to spend with his family.



Plan today for a better tomorrow


Thinking ahead is key to what ANZ does, and in March this year we partnered with Community Finance, which was seeking to raise $100m to build new affordable housing by issuing community finance bonds. Innovative projects like these are crucial if more New Zealanders are to own their own homes, and ANZ is proud to be a part of this project.


Hawke’s Bay furniture company Big Save is also thinking ahead. In particular, how to get more out of one of New Zealand’s most useful and versatile natural products – wool. As well as incorporating more wool into its products, Big Save has invested in its supply chain, promising farmers a fair price for their wool at a time when the cost of shearing the animals often exceeds the price of the wool.


And if New Zealand is to experience true gender equity in our workplaces, building up the confidence of the next generation of female leaders is essential. ANZ was proud to partner with GirlBoss NZ this year, which supports young women into leadership and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers, and inspires them to become the bosses of tomorrow.

GirlBoss NZ CEO Alexia Hilbertidou, centre, with GirlBoss NZ participants.


Celebrate success


It’s important recognise achievement, and celebrate it. ANZ was incredibly proud to win a range of Canstar awards this year for our business banking products, with the judges noting a high level of customer satisfaction.


One of ANZ’s new hires, Ashburton Relationship Associate Jake Jarman, made the whole company proud – particularly our agri teams – when he took home the coveted title of FMG Young Farmer Of The Year. An incredible effort from a talented young man.


In the Pacific, and in the middle of a serious Covid-19 outbreak, Fiji’s Olympic Sevens team won gold under the passionate management of ANZ’s Nomai Rasavuka. “These boys carry dreams,” Nomai said, “not just their own – but also those of their family, their tribe and all of Fiji - and they did us proud with their performance.”


We were also proud to support our Olympians and see our ANZ Ambassador Paralympians Tupou Neiufi and Holly Robinson win gold this year in Tokyo. In May, Holly talked about her long journey developing the mental toughness required to compete at an elite level, and how she turned her perceptions of failure into a drive to succeed.



Take care of those in need


Sometimes the simplest act of kindness can give people the confidence they need to get back on their feet. A great example of this is Dress For Success, which provides office or occasion-suitable clothing for women in need. ANZ was proud to support this charity, and dozens of others this year, through our Staff Foundation grants, which handed out over $1.2m in all.


Most of us now take technology like the internet for granted, but a large portion of Kiwis aged over 65 are not as technologically literate, and are at risk of being left behind. In January, a group of Auckland ANZ staff used their volunteer day to help with a technology workshop at Age Concern’s Avondale branch, and the bank has committed to supporting this segment of our community now, and into the future.


The saying goes that a society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable, and we believe the true is same for a company. When Australian ANZer Jane Yuile visited New Zealand for a holiday, she suffered a life-changing injury, which left her a quadriplegic. The injury might have been a career-ending one, but ANZ stuck with her throughout, putting measures in place to ensure she could continue to do her job.

Jane Yuile with her family.


Change with the times


The world is changing, and one of the most pressing aspects of that change is the climate. ANZ has been taking a number of steps over the past few years to improve our ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) performance, and this year we put together an infographic showing the progress we’ve made. It’s a long road, but we’re pleased to have begun our journey.


There are some subjects which are not often talked about in the business world, but ANZ CEO Antonia Watson spoke this year about one in particular that should no longer be taboo – menopause. Antonia wrote that many women experience menopause right around the time they move into more senior, high-pressure roles, and that it’s time for old attitudes to change.


And finally, we were pleased to showcase one of many New Zealand farmers going above and beyond to set an example, when it comes to environmental sustainability. Award-winning Hawke’s Bay farmers Evan and Linda Potter this year challenged other farmers to look 100 years into the future when planning their operations, and to do as much as possible to minimise their impact on the environment.

Farmers Evan and Linda Potter of Waipapa Station.


Future female leaders develop solutions to real financial problems

A new generation of young, female leaders have brainstormed solutions to real-world financial issues as part of an ANZ-backed course – with impressive results.

Talking openly and honestly about menopause

Younger generations are leading the charge when it comes to being body positive and what it means to be a woman – what can we learn from them?

‘Cinderella Experience’ giving women confidence to succeed

For some women, a barrier to employment can be as simple as not having the right clothes to wear – but life-changing charity Dress For Success (DFS) is helping them succeed one “Cinderella experience” at a time.