“We enable conversations about Rainbow issues to take place in the workplace that never happened before,” Michael Stevens tells express

Rainbow Tick founder and Programme Manager Michael Stevens has responded to criticism that the scheme has not been effective in its purpose of creating LGBT inclusive workplaces. 

Stevens spoke to express in order to respond to a radio segment on Radio New Zealand which called into question the effectiveness of the Rainbow Ticket programme. 


Radio New Zealand journalist Murphy (who previously wrote for both express and the late GayNZ) did a segment for the state broadcaster which seemed to question the effectiveness of the programme. 

Murphy interviewed an employee at Fletchers, which is Rainbow Tick certified, who said she was bullied out of her job and subjected to transphobic abuse in the workplace. 

The employee who was involved in Fletcher’s pride group said she first encouraged problems when a new manager was appointed at her workplace who “very anti-LGBT.”

“He didn’t think I should have been in a client-facing position … he did his darndest to remove me from places where I was more visible in the workplace.” The now-former employee told RNZ.

The former employee says her departure from Fletchers was a direct result of the anti-LGBTI bullying she faced. 

She said she contacted Rainbow Tick to report her experience but did not hear back. However, Stevens tells express this is not the case.

Stevens does stress that he is not doubting the experience of the employee, however. “We have no reason to doubt her experience. We understand that she identified it as arising from a new manager, whereas in the past her old manager had been supportive.”

Stevens says processes are in place to ensure complaints such as these are dealt with, but that Rainbow Tick had no record of this specific complaint. 

“We have no written record of a complaint of this nature and no record of any phone conversations on the topic. We were in reasonably regular contact with this person up until January last year. There is an active Rainbow staff network at Fletchers she was a part of. If we are made aware of any issues with client organisations we have been able to raise these with management or acted as advocates for individual employees in the past.”

Stevens says that had he been aware of the situation, he would have acted swiftly and that the Rainbow Tick will be removed from any organisation which did not provide an inclusive workplace for LGBT staff. 

“We have considered removing certification from some organisations in the past but once an issue is identified they have always given attention to resolving it and been able to lift their performance so that hasn’t happened,” Stevens tells express.  

Stevens stands by the programme and notes its success, saying over 70 organisations have now been Rainbow Tick verified. 

“We enable conversations about Rainbow issues to take place in the workplace and that never happened before. We add to visibility of Rainbow staff and issues in organisations in a way that was unthinkable even ten years ago.”

The Radio New Zealand story can be found here.