K’ Road Business Association (KBA), the body representing businesses along Auckland’s most renowned district for gender and sexual diversity, has decided to show a clearer commitment as a business sector to LGBTI+ visibility, safety and inclusion. KBA has partnered with Rainbow Youth and Pride Pledge to develop training and strategy around increasing visibility, safety and inclusion in the district.
Why the collaboration?
“One of our first steps was to look at the research on LGBTI+ safety, inclusion and visibility,” says Michael Richardson, KBA Manager. “As this can be a very emotive and politically complex area of discussion, we felt it would be best to start with the data we do have and ask what it tells us. Then we asked what partnerships would best work to our strengths, based on the data available.”
“The Pride Pledge team have an established network of businesses and not-for-profits nationally who work together at improving organisational culture and practice in order to improve safety and inclusion for employees and the public. So this is an obvious choice as a partner.” Supporters of Pride Pledge values include Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust, Qtopia, Inside Out and Diversity Works NZ.
Martin King, Programme Director at Pride Pledge says the data is clear. “The 2019 New Zealand Workplace Equality Study identified that even in our most well resourced and LGBTI+ wellbeing-focused organisations, 27% of LGB people still don't feel safe to come out to their manager and 60% of LGBTI people feel that their organisations should do more to improve visibility. This is a real call for action for any business community as the mental health impacts of a not being able to bring their whole self to work are disastrous.”
“And importantly, the number one thing that ‘rainbow’ people identified as the TO-DO is training and awareness workshops. That is why we partnered with Pride Pledge to help deliver these within our community,” adds Richardson.
There are a few other initiatives in the pipeline, depending on what members of the KBA business community want to work on together, one of which is a fledgling Pride Pledge Business Collaboration Group which should grow and start to push for the types of improvements in safety, visibility and inclusion which employers and employees want on the street.
“This collaboration,” reminds Richardson, “is a KBA initiative, so it is focused specifically on KBA members and their work as organisations and businesses. This is only a small part of the work that the broader community can do, but it is an important piece of the jigsaw of working towards a safer and more inclusive K’ Road.”
For more research and evidence on the current situation of LGBTI+ people's perceptions nad experiences in our workplaces, see discussion page.
What is Rainbow 101?
Rainbow 101 is a basic course designed to build awareness and empathy of LGBTI+ experience and issues. It is available to all KBA members for no charge.
What is the process for signing up and taking the Pride Pledge?
If members choose to sign up to the Pride Pledge, it is also free. Certification as a Pride Pledge supporter happens once organisations have participated in the training.
You can sign up for the Pride Pledge using the button below.
What if I am an individual or part of another community group who want to be part of this collaboration?
Well, firstly, that's great that you want to be part of the conversation. The initial starting point is to remember that this is about workplace culture and training and moving the cultures we already have in our workplaces. The place where most LGBTI+ people spend the majority of their awake time is at work. So the first port of call should be your workplace organisation if it is based on K' Road.
If you do not work or own a business on K' Road, then you are probably looking for a voluntary way to make a contribution to improving safety, visibility and inclusion in our community. Please feel free to speak to another organisation in the not-for profit sector, such as Rainbow Youth, which is LGBTI+ aligned and based within the district. They may have some opportunities where your talents can be utilised as part of the initiative.
K' Road has got a huge variety of workplaces and, although most are already values aligned, this collaboration is a chance to share some of the best practice that some within the business community already use and to let people lead and learn so that together we can make the experience for people in these organisations safer and more inclusive.
You can sign up for the Pride Pledge as an individual in your own capacity to show your support. Just visit the main take the pledge page for this option.
How can we ensure that this isn't just a case of pink-washing?
This will always be a sensitive area to navigate as, structurally, we live in a capitalist society which has got structural power imbalances and biases, many of which relate to ethnicity, education, sexuality, gender and wealth, to name a few. As a collaboration we work alongside and with allies to raise awareness primarily of the impact of sexuality and gender issues on our local work environment.
It is true that this is only part of the bigger puzzle of social change, but it is the part that the Pride Pledge focuses on in order to make what can sometimes seem like small, but significant over time, improvements to these biases and imbalances. Realistically, society's structural issues are not going to be fixed quickly. Yet, we do intend to be part of the process of restructuring how our businesses operate at a local level with a specific focus on sexuality and gender inclusion, visibility and safety.
By its nature, we are working with organisations which are mainly profit-driven businesses. We are not going to shy away from this reality. These businesses are all run by people like you and me, people who generally care about those they work with and for. This initiative gives everyone within these organisations an opportunity to start working together to improve inclusion, safety and visibility within their workplaces and across the business district, together.
It is to be expected that we won't all agree on everything all the time. And what may seem to be a burning issue for one group, may not seem so pressing for another. However, as we do our best to be kind to one another and to stick to our core values, there should be space for dissonance AND ongoing positive change which can allow both the business community and those who work, live and play in the district a real opportunity to thrive together.
The Pride Pledge is not an auditing process. It relies on organisations to take The Pride Pledge in good faith and to work towards living these values as best they can. Mistakes will be made. And we will all learn. We encourage members of the broader community to raise issues with businesses who are not living up to these values, and to feel free to involve the KBA, Rainbow Youth and Pride Pledge to raise issues if needed.
Because of this, there is always a risk that some organisations may be opportunistic about waving the rainbow flag without making the effort or the commitment. As a community we should challenge them on this in a constructive way.
In our experience, Pride Pledge businesses (when challenged in the right way) either opt to genuinely listen to concerns and shift their practice (if appropriate) or they opt not to fly the rainbow colours.
If we were already there as a business community (and when we say community we mean everyone who owns or works in an organisation on K' Road, not just those of us who are LGBTI+) then we wouldn't need to still be working on getting there. We know from the data in our workplaces that the experiences for LGBTI+ people, with all our wonderful and dynamic differences and strengths, is not yet what it could and should be in order for us to thrive as our full selves. Hopefully this collaboration between the KBA and Pride Pledge will help us to move closer to a more inclusive and safer destination.
The Pride Pledge works alongside a number of LGBTI+ organisations which, in different ways, share the values and inform the practice of the Pride Pledge team. These LGBTI+focused organisations include Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust, Rainbow Youth, Qtopia and the Spectrum Club.
You can sign up for the Pride Pledge using the button below.Take the Pledge as a K Road Business Association Member K' Road Pride Pledge Community