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A Call to Action for our HR Allies

This article is part of the Reflecting on Pride Month, HRNZ News Special Edition, written by  Amy Clarke (she/her) – HRNZ’s Manager, Professional Standards and Development. If you have a story to share or feedback we’d love to hear from you. Please email [email protected].

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In the The month of February marks Pride month here in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and this year following 2022’s Pride Month, I’m filled with cautious optimism.

There’s been exceptional work done over the last few years to capture the rainbow communities experience both inside and outside of the workplace while a lot of it is positive, much makes for hard reading but reading we can’t afford to look away from. The surveys and reports included as part of this Special Edition EDM tell a much better story than I could do justice to, and regardless of your own journey in relation to LGBTQI+ issues, whether you’re on a learning curve or wanting to start one, they are worth reading in depth when you have the capacity to engage with them. 

These reports provide a story of the experience that many of us don’t otherwise hear. My own experience as proud gay cis-woman is fully grounded in my own privilege within the rainbow community, and make sure I’m actively engaging with areas that I don’t see or experience every day to push for better outcomes for my community.

We do have a long way to go, mental health outcomes for rainbow folk are much poorer than the heterosexual population, we’ve only just outlawed conversion therapy, the rights of trans people in other countries are being compromised even as I type this, but there is hope.

As an HR practitioner, I only have to look around to see the awesome opportunity that my colleagues in the profession have in front of them in terms of the positive change they can help champion and be allies for. Many of us in HR either have direct ability to influence or rewrote policies, we often have a seat or a voice at decision making tables. We are the perfect group to push for enduring change and to role model inclusive behaviour for minority groups and groups that face systemic disadvantage.

And that is the aim of this EDM – to use my voice to seek out more allies in this space, to inform, to give HR practitioners some practical tools, and to help share the compelling case for change that is evident in the data to ultimately seek better outcomes for our rainbow community. 

A lack of tolerance for discrimination and open inclusion of our rainbow community in the workplace helps shape people’s experiences outside of the workplace, and in a nutshell, that’s why I believe it falls within HR’s role to help.

A note that we use the term rainbow throughout this EDM and supporting material as an umbrella term to mean include and incorporate all under the LGBTQI+ ‘umbrella’. I’d urge you to speak to any rainbow friends about their preferred terminology before using any specific term yourself. Terminology is important for the community and feeling empowered to use language that reflects us is just as important as having others ask us what terms we would like others to use to describe us.