The Rainbow Tick was launched on the 17th February 2014 during the Pride Festival and what a year we’ve had. Going from an idea being floated the year before that and then launched into a fully-fledged programme that some of New Zealand’s biggest companies have decided is worth their time and attention is a pretty good achievement.
What is the Rainbow Tick?
The Rainbow Tick is a confidence mark that shows a company has met the standard required to be certified as a safe and welcoming place for staff from the LGBTTI communities. Given we all spend a large chunk of our lives at work, it’s important that people from our communities can feel safe to be themselves in the workplace.
We shouldn’t have to watch our language and pretend we have an opposite sex partner when we’re lesbian or gay. Trans people shouldn’t need to feel fear or discomfort in the workplace in any form when it comes to being who they are. We should all be able to go to work and know that we can just be ourselves and get on with our jobs without having to hide anything, and without having to fear any bullying or stupid comments or “jokes”.
That’s what we aim to achieve via our programme – is this workplace safe and welcoming for LGBTTI people ? If it isn’t, how can we help them get to the level where it can be given the Rainbow Tick?
To do this, we audit organisations against a set of criteria based on current international best practice. Then to dig deeper, we run focus groups in the organisation, including one focus group that is made up of members of our community. In some ways that group has the most power, because they have their feet on the ground and are the ones who really know if the organisation is living up to its stated ideals.
We then produce a report which details what the organisation needs to do to get to the standard needed to be awarded the Rainbow Tick for 12 months, and we offer suggestions and support in how they can get there.
We don’t focus on the relationship any organisation has with its customers or clients, but we do anticipate that a side-effect of our programme will be greater awareness in dealing with people from the LGBTTI world in all areas.
At the moment we have been working with large organisations, but we’re currently developing a way to make the Rainbow Tick applicable to small organisations and businesses as well.
What has been immensely gratifying, and a little surprising, is how so many of NZ’s largest organisations understand the logic behind what we do and support it. I think this is in part because they already understand the arguments around the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace in terms of gender and ethnicity and we are building on the same platform.
If it makes sense to make the workplace more inclusive of women, or different ethnicities, ages and physical abilities, then it also makes sense to make it a safe and welcoming place for us.
We are sometimes asked if the need is still there; after all, New Zealand is one of the best places in the world for Rainbow communities, in terms of legislation at least.
One of our Rainbow Tick accredited clients, Westpac, commissioned some serious research to find out what the situation is like here for LGBTTI workers.
One in four community members reported hearing negative comments at work. Around 3 in 10 have hidden their identity or experienced discrimination at work. Around one third of non-Rainbow community members said they didn’t feel comfortable working with us. These figures alone show that there is a need for our programme.
Things are much better than they were; there is no doubt about that. But from what we hear there is still a long way to go in many organisations. Our work involves us coming back every 12 months to check things have stayed to standard at least, and hopefully even improved.
Slowly, step by step, we aim to make the New Zealand workplace the safest one in the world for people from our communities. We think that’s a really important thing to do, and we hope that over time you will see the benefits of this.
(In its first year of operation, Simpson Grierson, Coca-Coal Amatil, ASB, Sky City, AUT, ANZ, and Westpac have all been awarded the Rainbow Tick.)