It's your first day on the job and you're chatting in the ladies bathrooms with your new workmates. "Where are you from?" they ask. You tell them, adding that you've moved here because of your partner's job. "What does your husband do?" they ask. Fair enough question, except that your 'husband' is actually your wife. Do you correct them? Or do you play along?
Research from Ireland in 2014 reported that up to 30% of employees who identified as having diverse gender identity and sexual orientation have been bullied at some time on the job and 10% have left positions because they felt it was unsafe to be open about who they are. It’s therefore not surprising that around one third of LGBTQI+ people that are out to their family and friends, aren’t out at work. To a business that’s a loss of talent and opportunity, not to mention investment in time and training. That’s where the Rainbow Tick comes in.
“Most companies and organisations “don’t know what they don’t know” when it comes to working with the Rainbow community and while some have made deliberate efforts to be truly inclusive, many haven’t considered the need and don’t understand the benefits.” – Michael Stevens, Rainbow Tick
The term Rainbow encompasses the LGBTQI+ community (those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and other people who don’t feel they fit the idea of normal when it comes to gender or sexual identity). Rainbow Tick is an accreditation organisation that helps Kiwi businesses become better employers for their Rainbow staff. In short, they help businesses understand what they’re doing well and where they need to improve.
The accreditation process starts off by understanding how things are currently, think of it like a company ‘temperature check'. The business assesses itself on key areas provided by Rainbow Tick. Rainbow Tick then facilitates conversations (called forums) with identifying and non-identifying staff members, as a chance for everyone to understand the challenges Rainbow staff face and ask questions in a safe and supportive environment. It’s not about being ‘politically correct’, it’s about being able to better connect with colleagues, and consequently customers. This is all part of the process to help Rainbow Tick understand where there’s a difference between what the business thinks is going on and what Rainbow staff are experiencing.
“An analogy I heard is that you can invite people to the party but inclusion is about asking them to dance. That’s what Rainbow Tick gives us – somebody coming in from outside to help us think that through and then really demonstrate, visibly, inside and outside, that we’re really committed to diversity and inclusion.” – Julie Fitzgerald, Talent Manager at Z.
After this ‘temperature check’, Rainbow Tick works with the business to help them foster a more inclusive culture that better meets all staff needs. This might include policy development, training, and offering general support and advice. Companies that meet a certain standard will become accredited with the Rainbow Tick – a public sign of their commitment.
Z Energy is the first in its industry to get the Tick and joins just over thirty other New Zealand companies making this public commitment. Although this number is still small, it’s growing, with more iconic Kiwi brands wanting to provide an inclusive workplace where all employees feel safe and welcomed.
“The key thing is, if you bring your true self to work we reckon you'll be happier, you’ll enjoy work more and you'll be more productive. You are who you are and that’s really important to us.” – Jeremy Clarke, Internal Communications Manager at Z.