Creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ communities

🟀 Strategy & Leadership

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Nick Mackeson-Smith
Nick Mackeson-Smith
Chief Curiosity Officer, Founder and Director
February 5, 2024

Why this matters so much

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness and recognition of the diversity and intersectionality of gender and sexual identities. LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and more) and MVPFAFF+ (Mahu (Hawai’i and Tahiti), Vaka sa lewa lewa (Fiji), Palopa (Papua New Guinea), Fa’afafine (Samoa), Akava’ine (Rarotonga), Fakaleiti (Tonga), Fakafifine (Niue)) communities represent a rich and diverse spectrum of human experiences and expressions. However, these communities also face significant challenges and barriers in many aspects of life, including in the workplace.

According to a 2019 report by Stonewall, one of the world's leading charities for LGBTQI+ equality, more than a third of LGBTQI+ employees (35%) have hidden or disguised that they are LGBTQI+ at work in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination. Even more concerning is that, almost one in five LGBTQI+ employees (18%) had been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues in the survey year because they are LGBTQI+. These figures are even higher for trans and non-binary employees.

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Being an ally is about standing by and with those whose voices need amplifying.

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Adapting policies and procedures

Despite many years of tireless work, there is still a long way to go to create a truly inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ employees in organisations. While advocacy and allyship are essential to raise awareness and challenge discrimination, the real change happens when internal policies and processes are scrutinised and re-written to be fully inclusive for all. This means ensuring that all employees have equal access to opportunities, benefits, resources and support - regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

It can seem overwhelming to consider such a broad range of needs, but some great places to start are:

- Reviewing and updating existing policies and processes to ensure that they are inclusive and respectful of LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ identities and experiences, such as recruitment, performance evaluation, career development, compensation, benefits, leave, dress code, data collection and reporting.

- Adopting (or adapting) a clear and comprehensive anti-discrimination policy that covers sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and intersex status, and ensuring that it is communicated and enforced across all levels of the organisation.

- Providing training and education on LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ issues, terminology and best practices for all employees - especially managers and leaders, and creating opportunities for dialogue and feedback. (some great workshops are provided by the team at Pride Pledge)‍

- Creating safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ staff, such as employee resource groups, mentoring programmes, social events and wellness initiatives, and providing them with adequate resources and support.

- Engaging with external stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, partners and regulators, to demonstrate the organisation's commitment to LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ inclusion, and to advocate for their rights and interests.

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Building engagement

To implement these changes effectively, organisations need to adopt a participatory and collaborative approach that involves LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ staff and their allies at every stage of the process. Some of the steps that organisations can take to facilitate this approach are:

- Conducting a needs assessment to identify the current gaps and challenges in the organisation's policies and processes regarding LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ inclusion, as well as the expectations and aspirations of LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ staff and their allies who work for you, would like to work for you (or have chosen not to work for you because of the gaps and challenges!).

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- Developing a strategic plan that outlines the vision, goals, objectives, actions, timelines, responsibilities and indicators for LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ inclusion in the organisation, and ensuring that it is aligned with the organisation's existing mission, values and strategy.

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- Establishing a steering committee or working group that oversees the implementation of the strategic plan, monitors the progress and outcomes, resolves any issues or conflicts, and reports to senior leaders.

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- Soliciting input and feedback from LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ staff and their allies throughout the implementation process, using various methods such as surveys, focus groups, interviews, consultations and feedback sessions.

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- Celebrating successes and recognising achievements in LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ inclusion in the organisation, such as launching new policies or initiatives, reaching milestones or targets, receiving awards or recognition, or sharing stories or testimonials.

We can help with this, if you need some help. It's our jam.

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Our pledge

At Five New Zealand, we understand the power of diversity and the strength that arises from embracing individual uniqueness.

We stand firmly committed to championing an inclusive culture, one where all individuals – irrespective of their sex, sexuality, gender, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, or neurodivergence – feel seen, heard, and valued. What we care about at Five (fivenz.com)
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As a proud Gold Pride Pledge partner in New Zealand, we are unwavering in our commitment to uplift and support the LGBTQI+ / MVPFAFF+ community. We believe that love, respect, and acceptance should be universal languages, free from bias and discrimination.

Being an ally is about standing by and with those whose voices need amplifying.

At Five New Zealand, we're devoted to enhancing our allyship and advocacy efforts. From our leadership to our newest team members, we will stand in solidarity with under-represented groups, ensuring their stories are heard, their needs are met, and their rights are protected.

Every person has the right to bring their full self to work, and we are dedicated to ensuring our workplaces are sanctuaries of acceptance. We promise to foster environments where individuality is celebrated, and discrimination finds no ground.

We strive to make Five New Zealand synonymous with inclusivity.

We are proud of our progress so far, but we know there is always more we can do.

We also encourage everyone to join us in celebrating the diversity and inclusion of LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ communities, not only during this Auckland Pride Month, but all year round. Take The Pledge – Pride Pledge

Thanks for reading.

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February 5, 2024
February 5, 2024

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