Auckland has come a long way in celebrating the rainbow community, and Auckland Council is proud to be leading the way.
Over the last 25 years there has been a massive positive shift in the way staff and communities are supported by local government, and New Zealand’s largest local authority has been at the forefront since amalgamation in 2010.
This Saturday, over 300 staff from Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Watercare and City Rail Link will participate in the 2018 Auckland Pride Parade. The council family will be one of the biggest groups in the parade, a testament to the focus the council has put on diversity and inclusion in its workplace.
Councillor Hills celebrates Pride
Marching in the parade is Councillor Richard Hills, a powerful champion for the rainbow community.
“The Pride Parade is about unity and celebration – it’s a chance to bring together people from all across New Zealand to march proudly in honour and support of our rainbow communities,” Cr Hills says.
“For me, being a part of the Pride Parade is a way to pay tribute to the people who identify with our community in a way that is fun, colourful and inclusive for everyone.”
While such a turnout from staff is cause for celebration, it has taken time – and hard work – to get to this level.
When Cr Hills started in local government back in 2010, the Hero Parade (an earlier incarnation of the Pride Parade) was a thing of the past, having last been held in 2001. After hearing the advocacy from the community, the council and ATEED helped bring it back to Auckland through funding and organisational assistance.
“Since then, the parade has grown massive in size – this year there will be more than 60 entries,” says Cr Hills.
“More importantly, the understanding of the event as a time for celebration and fun has reached new audiences – each year we see more and more people from across the community participate, celebrate and take part.”
The future looks bright
Although we know there is still much work to do, especially for our transgender and gender diverse communities, Cr Hills says that more and more we are moving to a society that doesn’t just ‘accept’ difference – it is encouraged and respected.
“The rainbow community has a vibrant voice and our opinions and ideas are actively sought and listened to.”
Auckland Council is committed to creating a diverse workforce and putting policies and practices in place to harness the benefits of diversity. By building a strong inclusive culture it hopes to create a more effective, responsive and innovative organisation.
“When we are truly diverse and inclusive, the wellbeing of our people will never be in question. To get there as an organisation, we need to continue to emphasise the importance of wellbeing and to build on our existing culture and values.”
This means taking responsibility for calling out any form of discrimination, and Cr Hills strongly believes Auckland Council should be the flagbearer for inclusiveness and respect.
Don’t look back in anger
Cr Hills acknowledges that his own – mostly – positive experiences as a member of the rainbow community are built on the courage of individuals who have paved the way.
“One of the things I’ve been talking to people about over the past few months is their experiences both at work and in their home communities over time, as someone who identifies as a member of the rainbow community,” he says.
“What always stands out to me is the courage many people have shown, which has created the more inclusive and diverse environment we have today. This was in a time when we didn’t have marriage equality or groups like the Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel.”
Learn more about how Auckland Council is working with Rainbow Communities.