A chat with Dignity co-founders: Why we do it and where we started

-          When did Dignity first start?

At the end of 2016 we started working on the business and in May 2017 we started trading. 

 

-          How has the first 12 months gone?

Great! We've expanded from just a vision, and now (thanks to ANZ_ we are supporting around 8% of New Zealand high schools as a functioning, nation-wide business. 

 

-          Ultimately, what is your vision for Dignity? Where do you see Dignity in 1, 2, 5 years’ time?

We want Dignity to set the new norm so that every business supplies their employees with tampons and pads. Whether that be through us, or as part of their milk run - we want to change the culture to be more inclusive of everyone. Over the next several years we want to grow our partnerships across New Zealand and eventually overseas. 

We also want all girls to not be hindered by a lack of accessibility. Within the next year or so we would love to be able to support 25% of Highschools. In 5 years - all of them!

 

-          How has Dignity been received by schools, workplaces?

Really well. We make sure we are constantly refining our service so that it gets to the people who need it the most. Currently, we are collecting feedback from the schools to see how Dignity helped over term 2. The results are really impactful. Dignity is making a difference, girls are attending school more often and nurses aren't paying for pads and tampons themselves to help the students out! 

In workplaces, it's been really awesome too. We collect feedback from staff after every site is started. We've heard so many stories from women who have found Dignity really useful when they've been caught out, staff who feel personally supported and a resounding sense of pride to be involved with the initiative. 

 

-          What have been the learnings?

Kiwis of all positions in workplaces do care about 'doing good' and will help out where they can to make things happen. 

There will be highs and lows in any business and if you care about what you are doing, and feel you are making a difference you can work through anything. 

 

-          Is there anywhere else in the world that does something similar?

In the U.S. it is very normal for businesses to supply their staff with sanitary items and their are advocacy groups set up to support this movement. 

But currently, no one in the world does what we do- however there are other awesome kiwi businesses that are trying to overcome period poverty in other ways. Etc the wā collective, necesse, the hello cup etc.

 

-          Why is it important to you to help Kiwi girls and women?

We have met the most amazing women and girls through this experience. Every one of them has been extraordinary and has the capacity to make a huge difference in this world. Right now, our young people globally make up the biggest generation ever in history, and while there are risks facing them there are also huge opportunities for this generation to contribute amazing things to the world, more than ever before. If we can part of facilitating our girls and women to be the best they can be, to remove barriers, and make a better future then I don't see why we wouldn't want to be a part of that. 

 

-          Is Dignity your full-time job?

No, we both work full time out of dignity. 

-          How can businesses and schools get involved?

Join the movement! If you're a business, sign up to the initiative and partner with us to supply sanitary items to your workforce and girls in school. If you're a school contact us and we'll work to send products your way!

 

-          Is it open to all NZ schools?

Yes. As long as there is a need for the initiative we will supply it. Sometimes poverty can occur in unexpected places. 

 

-          Is there a waiting list?

Yes, there is but we are working hard to increase our partnerships to support more schools across NZ. 

Miranda Hitchings