Sunday, 8 February 2015

GAYTMs, diversity and respect

"Diversity" is a problematic concept.  I use it sometimes because it's a shorthand way of saying I don't think the most powerful or visible are the best or even the only.

But it doesn't work in lots of ways. Because implicit in the idea of "diversity" is plurality sure, but there's no way of marking the fact that the different positions are valued differently in existing power relations.  So I can say I love the diversity of the suburb I live in - which is true - but that doesn't allow me to note that queer young people in New Zealand have significant housing problems due to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.  Or that our state housing is woefully inadequate for families which do not fit the Pākehā middle-class nuclear ideal.  Or that my suburb is land stolen under colonisation.

Diversity maybe works least well around capitalism.  Those interested in justice don't really want diversity of incomes do we?  We want equity.  We want an end to greed.  We want social and material arrangements that make sure everyone has enough to eat, a warm place to live and the capacity to thrive.

These philosophical issues are part of the irony of the GAYTM debate, part of ANZ's marketing in Australia last year, introduced just this week in Aotearoa to time with major queer festivals in Auckland and Wellington.

GAYTMs "celebrate diversity and inclusion for New Zealand's rainbow community."

ANZ's chief financial officer, Antonia Watson, the executive sponsor of the bank's Pride Network, said it aimed to encourage staff to be themselves at work.
However, she said the move also made good business sense for the bank, "given the make-up of our staff and customers".

The language is fabulous, the GAYTMs are pretty and profits from non-ANZ cards will go queerly to underresourced queer community organisations.  And as part of this burst of publicity for ANZ, they have been awarded the Rainbow Tick.
“We believe that celebrating a diverse New Zealand is not only the right thing to do but also makes good business sense given the make-up of our staff and customers,” says ANZ Chief Financial Officer Antonia Watson, who is also the ANZ Pride Network’s executive sponsor.
“The GAYTMs represent values that are important to all of us: respect, inclusion, equality and acceptance.”
The Rainbow Tick gives organisations queer mana - they are officially inclusive and treat us as well, you know, staff and customers.

Except I'm not sure I want to be treated like one of ANZ's staff.  Well, not all of them anyway.  Last year ANZ was super lucrative, making a $1.7 billion profit so the New Zealand chief executive could give himself a 15% pay rise up to $4.7 million.

Celebrating a diverse New Zealand for ANZ didn't extend to offering their staff 15% pay rises.  In fact, staff began striking from late last year, culminating in national action on Christmas Eve, because they could not get a 5% rise across the line, nor could they get ANZ to agree that having 20% of staff prepared to work without set starting and finishing times or set days of work was adequate.

Despite their commitment to diversity, ANZ needs all new staff to be prepared to have their working hours change month by month.  Hard for parents, caregivers, people with study, voluntary work, sports, music or any other kind of commitments really.

The hypocrisy of ANZ's pinkwashing - and make no mistake, this is inspired marketing - allows their behaviour with their real staff to be minimised.  From The Financial Brand:
Key Insight: This is what smart, savvy brand builders do. ANZ has transformed the otherwise mundane activity of withdrawing money into a branded experience that has helped the bank generate huge amounts of name awareness.
But the chief concern for me is that when the queer community lines up behind GAYTMs, when we offer these kinds of workplaces a Rainbow Tick, we are saying that shiny things for queer people are more important than worker's rights.

Like these are different things.

Queer people's rights are workers rights.  You cannot be a good employer for queer people just by talking about respect and diversity.  You have to also offer working conditions that are acceptable for all workers, because queer people need to know what time their day starts and ends too.  We need to know we will have enough money to feed ourselves and our loved ones, even if we're not a chief executive.

You can contact Rainbow Tick here if you want to let them know this pinkwashing doesn't work for you.  Or even better, you can support workers rights at ANZ by telling ANZ here.  First Union are updating where negotiations for ANZ staff are at regularly here.


melulater said...

These are valuable points you have made. Unless you are a good employer, that your employees trust and know that they are valued and taken care off, then anything else is window dressing and just for show.

anarkaytie said...

Well said, Luddite.

I even thought some of those things, peripherally, as my brain exploded from all the shiny, and recognising a friend in the advert & all.

I'm very glad your brain is sharper than mine, and can tie all the things together so well, 'cos am I feeling old & slow right now ;-)

Since ANZ is my bank, too, I'll go fill auto-forms & make some of the excellent points you've brought up. Cheers!

AnneE said...

An excellent piece, thank you - I've shared it on Facebook.