31 May 2019

What does it take to get a Rainbow Tick?

8:59 am on 31 May 2019

Rainbow Tick says organisations need to meet a range of benchmarks before they can be certified but details of these aren't publically available. RNZ digital journalist Murphy looks at what it takes for an organisation to get the tick of approval.

LGBT rainbow flag (file photo)

Photo: Creative Commons/Ludovic Bertron

The Crusaders have one, Rugby New Zealand have one and so do almost 60 of our biggest companies and organisations, but what exactly is required of a Rainbow Tick workplace?

A number of queer and trans employees say they felt unsafe while working at Rainbow Tick organisations where transphobia and homophobia were commonplace. Two of these employees said bullying had an immense impact on their mental health.

Some believe Rainbow Tick is a marketing ploy and have questioned the thoroughness of Rainbow Tick processes and training.

Founder and programme manager Michael Stevens said it was not a marketing exercise - it was about bringing change to an organisation.

He told told Morning Report to get a Rainbow Tick, organisations have to go through a "really extensive assessment process" to get certified and this process can take some organisations two years.

"That involves two distinct data capture processes, one of them is a list of 30 items of what we would call technical evidence ranging from goverance to HR policies and practices, organisational development, staff engagements and then in parallel to that, we run focus groups internally with staff from those organisations."

Details of the certification process and "technical evidence" benchmarks that workplaces have to uphold are not publicly available.

Information RNZ obtained under the Official Information Act reveals these include whether the words 'rainbow diversity and inclusion' are included in an organisation's strategic plan, meeting minutes, or non-discrimination policy. It is unclear whether an organisation needs to have these words included in more than one area of procedure or policy.

The Rainbow Tick certification process as shown on the Rainbow Tick website before its recent refresh.

The Rainbow Tick certification process as shown on the Rainbow Tick website before its recent refresh. Photo: Screenshot / Rainbow Tick

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler said all employees are protected under the law regardless of whether their workplace has a Rainbow Tick or diversity and inclusion covered in policy.

"Everyone is entitled not to be discriminated in employment and that includes on the basis of gender or sexuality, everyone's entitled to have fair processes at work."

Rainbow Tick organisations are also required to ask staff to mark "occassions of relevance" like pride festivals and publically sponsor or support community events or organisations, like having a banner and stand at a festival.

In regards to training, organisations need to offer "rainbow and diversity inclusion training". Rainbow Tick offers this as part of the cost of certification, although it appears to be on a voluntary basis and consists of an online module and a workshop described as a guided conversation.

Incidents of harrassment or discrimination against queer and trans staff or customers need to be monitored and causes addressed.

Concerns raised by Fletchers employee Kim and her colleagues about the Rainbow Tick weren't addressed by the organisation. When Kim contacted Fletcher Building HR, after being severly bullied, her concerns weren't addressed and when she reached out to Rainbow Tick programme manager Michael Stevens, he didn't get back to her.

The 2018 Human Rights Commission report states that "due to the nature of the contract between HRC and Rainbow Tick" the re-certification report doesn't show a data result table (like the one below), that most Rainbow Tick reports have - meaning it is unclear whether it needs to meet the same benchmarks as other organisations.

The certification benchmarks, or technical evidence, as shown in the 2018 AUT re-certification report are below:

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