26 November 2019
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has been awarded the Rainbow Tick, becoming what is believed to be the first military in the world to have received a robust independent accreditation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) inclusion.
Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short announced the receipt of the accreditation at an event hosted by the NZDF in Wellington tonight.
The accreditation follows an intensive 13-month assessment period by the Rainbow Tick organisation, which reviewed the NZDF’s policies and practices, as well as running 15 focus groups to understand whether the NZDF is a place where LGBT+ people can feel welcome, safe and included.
Air Marshal Short said the Rainbow Tick was a significant milestone in the NZDF’s journey to attract and retain a diverse array of talented New Zealanders with the breadth of skills and experiences the NZDF needed to be successful.
“The improved processes and practices made to increase inclusion for LGBT+ people actually benefit all our Defence people because they are about the NZDF becoming a more modern, flexible, people-focussed organisation,” he said.
“Whether in peacetime or on operations, our strength is team work, and that means living our values and treating each other with decency and respect.”
Rainbow Tick director Martin King said his organisation was delighted with the hard work and dedication from the NZDF to achieve the Rainbow Tick certification.
“This is a significant milestone for an organisation that has historically been perceived as very macho, and which many might perceive as not being safe and welcoming for LGBT+ people,” he said.
“The genuine commitment from the Chief of Defence and the executive leadership must be commended, along with their support for Overwatch (NZDF’s grass-roots LGBT+ staff network) as a driving force behind ensuring that NZDF is inclusive for all – both now and into the future.”
This year the NZDF is celebrating Pride 25 – 25 years of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender personnel serving openly in uniform. In 2014, the NZDF was recognised as being the world’s most LGBT+ inclusive military by the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.
“The Rainbow Tick is another important marker on our journey, but we aren’t declaring that it’s mission accomplished,” Air Marshal Short said.
“Day to day there is always more to do to build a diverse, inclusive and respectful organisation.”