Bring your whole self to work

Your greatest asset as a company is your people and your customers - and they come in all shapes, sizes, identities and orientations.

That's why embracing inclusion as a business is not just the right thing to do – it's the smart thing to do if you want to attract the best talent and enhance your brand.

One way you can do this is by earning the Rainbow Tick. The Rainbow Tick is awarded to organisations that can show they're safe, welcoming and inclusive places for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations.

And it's something we're proud to say Southern Cross has earned, along with many of New Zealand's largest companies.

For us, gaining the Rainbow Tick was the culmination of work started in 2016 when we launched our Diversity and Inclusion Forum.  The Forum was tasked with ensuring every person could "bring their whole self to work", and it evolved from there.

For other companies like law firm Simpson Grierson, the journey has been deeply personal. When former HR Director Jo Copeland discovered in a conversation with a young lawyer in 2013,  that he was so scared of revealing his identity and sexuality that he was contemplating suicide, she acted.

“At that point I thought, “Enough is enough." It’s stressful enough for young people to make the transition to this environment; if they feel they can’t be who they really are, we need to do something about it.”

Hear more about the the Simpson Grierson story here: youtu.be/VrOZSAR6Vxg

If you're looking to make your workplace more inclusive, here are a few easy ideas to get started.

  • Consider offering flexible working opportunities (including remote working, job sharing and part-time work).
  • Provide a wellbeing programme with seminars, expos, health/workplace assessments.
  • Run regular social events.
  • Offer free, professional, confidential counselling service for staff and their immediate families.
  • Look at your policies and procedures with fresh eyes and an open mind – you may be surprised at how many narrow assumptions you'll find and how easy they are to change.

Just a matter of words

Even the smallest changes to an application form can make the biggest difference. By recognising that "Are you male or female?" is not a simple question for some people, and offering support and alternative ways to answer, Southern Cross aims to make the transgender community feel more welcomed as members.

"The result is a model for others to follow in New Zealand, if not the world," says Rainbow Tick's Michael Stevens.

 

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