Some 86% of Fortune 500 firms now ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, up from 61% in 2002. Around 50% also ban discrimination against transsexuals, compared with 3% in 2002. It is not enough however to make sure that your hiring practices build up a diverse workforce, diversity cannot give your business a competitive advantage unless it is managed with effectiveness on an on-going basis.
Some of the earliest and most obvious moves to make the workplace more inclusive were born out of the struggle for women’s rights and racial equality. Work to recognize and implement the rights of the Rainbow Community is based on the same underlying human rights principle – all humans are born equal and deserve to go about their lives with freedom and respect. It follows therefore that all employees can expect to be treated equitably.
With increased globalisation workplaces have changed dramatically in fifty years. Human Resource departments choose to work with the depth and richness of diversity as an effective way to add value and capacity to a workforce. As Rainbow communities become more confident, visible and accepted in society they insist on being free to be who they are at work. The decision to chase diversity is now paying dividends for the few that were the pioneers.
The first major advocates for fair treatment in the workforce is traced back to a Human Rights Campaign led by a US LGBT advocacy group that developed the Corporate Equality Index which analyses how well Fortune 500 companies do in terms of Rainbow inclusiveness. In 1984 the first big company to bring in a non-discrimination policy based on sexuality was IBM. The iconic company has continued to proactively support a deliberate policy of embracing employee diversity of gender identity or sexual orientation. It continues to be a model employer the world over. Stonewall (UK) and Pride in Diversity (Australia) have developed similar programmes. They are also appearing more and more in India and China. Rainbow Tick is the first movement in New Zealand to guide companies and organisations that want to adopt Inclusion & Diversity policies and inhouse training.
It is illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of their sexual orientation or their gender identity in New Zealand. Most companies and organisations “don’t know what they don’t know” when it comes to working with the Rainbow community however – and while some have made deliberate efforts to be truly inclusive, many haven’t considered the need and don’t understand the benefits.
Diversity and Inclusion is not simply a matter of being legally compliant or politically correct. More and more data supports what is known as “the Business Case for Diversity”. That is, there are real and clear advantages for businesses in embracing and leveraging off the wealth of diversity that all employees and customers bring. Unless management in particular sees Rainbow people as competent, valuable, intelligent and deserving of respect the wide range of richness and wisdom that today’s New Zealand brings goes unrealized in a business.
The Rainbow Tick programme allows businesses and organisations to understand what they are doing well in regard to their Rainbow personnel, what they need to improve, and how to do this. Through the help of the Rainbow Tick a manager can derive the best from an employee by being a good employer.
Getting the Rainbow Tick allows you to show employees, customers and the wider world that you are a progressive, inclusive and dynamic organisation that reflects the community you are based in.