BNZ receives Rainbow Tick

BNZ is proud to announce that we’ve received the Rainbow Tick, and just in time for Auckland Pride too. We talk to BNZers about it what it means to them.

Introduced in New Zealand in 2014, the Rainbow Tick is an external audit and quality improvement programme designed to make an organisation a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for people of diverse gender identity and sexual orientation.

It commits BNZ to formal benchmarks around lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) inclusion in the workplace and certification is reassessed regularly. It isn’t a one and done situation and certainly isn’t the end of work to ensure everyone feels valued and included no matter how they identify.

BNZ’s head of Diversity & Inclusion Lana West sees the tick as an inclusion badge of honour for BNZ.

‘Every BNZer should be able to bring their whole-selves to work.  The ability for people to ‘Be Me’ and know that this is valued and welcomed is a right that we all share.’

Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini – this celebration is not about any one individual but a celebration for us all as a collective.

Getting the tick has been a collective effort and it was a conversation between BNZer Howard Blackwell and BNZ’s Head of People and Communications, Annie Brown, that started the bank on the journey to receiving it.

Howard, who works in the office of the Chief Risk Officer at BNZ and is a member of Gay and Lesbian Singers (GALS) Auckland, attended a reception at another company who were celebrating receiving the Rainbow Tick.

‘We sang a few songs and joined in the celebrations speeches, many of which were poignant personal stories.  After the event I was reflecting on why BNZ didn’t have the Rainbow Tick, and how fabulous it would be if I was singing here to celebrate BNZ’ says Howard.

‘I spoke with Annie and she enabled and encouraged Mark Carrick (BNZ’s Inclusion Consultant) to start the long process of applying for the Tick accreditation.  That was also the impetus needed to enter the Auckland Pride parade last year, and the establishment of Pride@BNZ’.

So what does the tick mean for Howard?

GALS in the Art Gallery
GALS performing at the Art Gallery

‘I’m proud (pun intended) of the journey we’ve taken and the fact we have the Tick.  It shows to me what I suppose I already knew – BNZ is a great place to work, with great culture and attitudes.  Somewhere we can be ourselves without the fear of exclusion, where sexuality is incidental to what we do and how we work.’

We spoke to a few other BNZers and members of Pride@BNZ about what it means to them.

Adam Whitmarch, Delivery Lead, BNZ’s Business Optimisation and Improvement team and previous member of the Auckland Parade Management team in 2014 as Marshall Co-Ordinator.

Adam at the 2017 Big Gay Out
Adam at the 2017 Big Gay Out

I believe the diversity in a business is what makes it stronger. Working for a company that outwardly recognises inclusion and diversity on all levels proves that it will celebrate peoples differences and focus on what is important.

To me the Rainbow Tick being earned by BNZ is a very big step in feeling accepted by the organisation, leadership and people I work with. Feeling free to be myself at work is key to being happy and healthy. It helps me engage and have an identity at BNZ without judgement and prejudice.

This is so very important to me having being in previous work places where I have not just felt unaccepted but felt I needed to mask the real me just to feel safe at work.

Jamie Dorreen, BNZ contact centre and email team, secretary of Pride@BNZ since its conception, volunteer with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation for the last 3 years.

JamieWhile working for BNZ, I’ve never felt excluded from anything, felt unsupported and aware that when I want to get something out of my work, I have to put the work in. In saying this, I also realise that it’s not about me, and that not everyone might feel this way. Having the Rainbow Tick means that others coming to terms with who they are will hopefully know that there is the support (e.g. through Pride@BNZ and EAP), that there is the structure in place and that BNZ is a safe place to grow and be who you are, whoever that is.

Ryan TunstallBNZ Store Manager in the Wellington Region, father, husband and Hot Yoga teacher.

Ryan and his husband and daughter.
Ryan with his husband and daughter.

The Rainbow Tick is about formally recognising that the BNZ embraces and values diversity of its people. There are studies that show organisations that successfully embrace diversity are more successful and many levels.

We also asked Ryan if he had any advice for someone who might be struggling with being able to be themselves at work? ‘Life is too short to pigeonhole yourself’ he said.



Doreen Shields, senior analyst programmer in BNZ Digital.

Doreen with her daughter on the day they celebrated the passing of a private member’s bill that allowed the names of both of her mothers to be recorded on her birth certificate.
Doreen with her daughter on the day they celebrated the passing of a private member’s bill that allowed the names of both of her mothers to be recorded on her birth certificate.

I have been with BNZ for 17 years and it is fair to say that when I joined BNZ it wasn’t a place where it felt comfortable or safe to be open about being gay. For me that changed over time as I established myself and got to know people but it was only when my partner was diagnosed with a terminal illness that I was more generally open about it. As it happens the people I worked with and the management team were absolutely fantastic.

I think the Rainbow Tick, and the things that have led to it being granted, are so important to create an environment where people do feel safe and don’t have to worry about what will happen if they are open about who they are. The next step is to build those networks so that anyone who feels isolated or unsure has people they can call on for support.

Pride@BNZ will be out in full force at the Auckland Pride Parade on 25 February. We hope to see you there!