Spark, OUTLine extend conversation for LGBTQIA+ community into the workplace

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Building on the message from 2019 about conversations with family being the first step to understanding, this year Spark and OUTLine are extending that message into the workplace, with a new film focusing on recruitment of those within the LGBTQIA+ community and a key reminder for employers that individuality is a strength that should be welcomed.

OUTLine is a national charity that offers a free support line for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their friends and family, as well as specialist face-to-face and Skype counselling, and a peer support service for trans and non-binary people in Auckland. They have been a partner of Spark for over two years now.

Spark has created a new documentary-style video that touches on what it’s like for trans and non-binary people going through the recruitment process. It’s about not only affirming that OUTLine is here to support them, but also that resources for employers seeking to foster more inclusive workplaces are available.

The video is fronted by gender non-conforming performer Gabriel, also known as Princess, who through phone conversations with their mum and potential employers, demonstrates some of the employment challenges that members of the LGBTQIA+ community can face.

A recent report evaluating the health and wellbeing of trans and non-binary people in Aotearoa found that the unemployment rate among this group was more than double the general population, and more than a quarter of respondents reported that they suspect their gender expression or appearance made it harder to get paid work.

However a 2014 study of LGBT strengths suggested that through adversity and life experience, members of the rainbow community tend to develop stronger skills in the areas of social and emotional intelligence, and another study cited resilience as being a strength – skills generally considered valuable in any working environment.

OUTLine General Manager Claire Black said that it was important for OUTLine to extend its support of the rainbow community by using its knowledge to encourage and support other organisations on their journey to creating truly inclusive workplaces.

“With resources available on our website, we’re looking to help enhance the level of understanding employers have of trans and non-binary people so that they can then better support their employees,” said Black.

“OUTLine, along with much of the rainbow community, really appreciates Spark’s unwavering support in creating space for these conversations – we feel they are truly standing with us.”

The recent 2019 New Zealand Workplace Diversity Survey revealed that there is a growing awareness of the impact bias has on workplace decisions, with 63 per cent of organisations indicating it’s an important issue, compared with 42 per cent in 2018.

Pride@Spark Coordinator, Riki Hollings said that while Spark still has a way to go before it can call itself a truly inclusive workplace, he is proud of the progress the business has made in this space over the last few years and confident that it’s on a good path.

“Ensuring people know that OUTLine’s support and resources are available, not only for potential candidates, but for employers and organisations, is imperative. And having such an amazing talent like Princess on board this year helps paint a picture and bring to life the common struggles many of us face as members of the rainbow community,” said Hollings.