Westpac survey: Kiwi workplace acceptance of Rainbow Community surface deep

Westpac survey: Kiwi workplace acceptance of Rainbow Community surface deep

The majority of New Zealanders say they are accepting of the Rainbow Community (which includes those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)) but that does not extend to the workplace, according to a new survey by Westpac New Zealand Limited.

Westpac’s Rainbow Acceptance Monitor was conducted online with 1,025 Kiwis – 252 of those from the Rainbow Community. As an overview, it found that 54% of all those surveyed accepted the Rainbow Community and 67% felt comfortable working with someone LGBT. However, broken down, only 43% of heterosexuals surveyed believed their work colleagues were accepting.

This has translated to the Rainbow Community being twice as likely to have felt bias at work due to their identity. Nearly one in three have been made to feel uncomfortable at work (vs 11% for non-Rainbow Community), 27% have experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation (7% non-Rainbow Community) and 25% (8% non-Rainbow Community) have heard staff make comments about the community that made them feel uncomfortable. 

SEE ALSO: Westpac gets the Rainbow Tick

Chair of Westpac’s Employee Action Group and General Manager Retail Bank, Ian Blair, said the monitor clearly shows New Zealanders believe they are open minded but their actions and language used in the workplace do not reflect that.

“It appears we have open minds and an accepting attitude but some of our actions and what we say have not yet caught up to fully reflect that,” Mr Blair said.

“For example, some sayings and language that is used almost subconsciously is outdated in the 21st century. Take the word gay which originates from homophobia and is still used to shame or describe something that is a bit lame – ‘oh, that’s gay.’

“Used like that in a workplace amongst Rainbow Community colleagues is disrespectful and can understandably cause discomfort.”

Only just over 50% of Rainbow Community people surveyed feel they are able to express themselves at work compared to 66% of non-Rainbow Community members and 37% have hidden their sexual orientation at work (4% non-Rainbow Community).

In terms of age, covering all people surveyed, 35 – 44 year olds at 74% are the most comfortable working with members of the community. The least comfortable age groups are at either end of the spectrum with only 58% of those over 66 years old and 63% of those between 15-24 years old comfortable working with people from the Rainbow Community.

The monitor also revealed industries and areas of the country that are more inclusive than others. The hospitality, education and healthcare sectors all rated highly for having an accepting workplace. On the flipside, information media & telecommunications, manufacturing, and retail were among the least accepting.

Only 27% of those in the manufacturing sector believe their colleagues are accepting of the Rainbow Community versus 50% of that sector saying their work place overall are accepting of all people. In telecommunications 44% believed their colleagues accept the community against 70% of those in the sector saying their work place overall is accepting of all people. Banking also could do better with only a third of LGBT surveyed saying banks were accepting of the community.

“Westpac and some other banks have been awarded Rainbow Tick accreditation as a business that understands, values, and welcomes sexual and gender diversity but there is still a lot more to do,” Mr Blair said.

The South Island and lower North Island (Taupo down) are the most inclusive areas of the country with the Upper North Island (Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne) and Auckland the least accommodating.

SEE ALSO: Westpac gets the Rainbow Tick

Key Findings

Question

Rainbow Community members

Non-Rainbow Community members

Comfortable working with members of the Rainbow Community

72%

65%

My work colleagues are accepting of the Rainbow Community

49%

43%

Have been made to feel uncomfortable at work

32%

11%

Experienced discrimination due to sexual orientation

27%

7%

Hid sexual orientation at work

37%

4%

Staff comments have made me feel uncomfortable

25%

8%

Able to express themselves at work

53%

66%

Most Accepting Industries *

  • Education and training (58%)
  • Healthcare (55%)
  • Hospitality (51%)

 

Least Accepting Industries

  • Manufacturing (27%)
  • Information Media & Telecommunications (44%)
  • Retail (45%)

 

*Q. My colleagues are accepting of the community

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