Matt Fistonich chats to co-chairs Ajay and Alex from ASB‘s LGBTIQ+ network group Unity, to discover more about the team spreading Pride throughout one of NZ’s biggest banks and beyond.
Unity was founded in 2014 and started out with just 10 members has since grown to over 80 representatives of the rainbow community and allies aiming to help progress initiatives across ASB and in the broader community.
Aiming to influence and support ASB employees and customers by creating a sense of inclusion and belonging. Unity’s mission is to make a difference to as many people as they can.
Ajay Chhibber (he/him), who has been working at ASB since August 2020, says he loves how welcoming ASB was when he joined.
“I love the fact that all of us here at ASB stand by our five values: ‘Caring, Integrity, Passion, Courage and United.’ There is a great culture of inclusion and acceptance here!”
Workin in ASB‘s digital space, Ajay takes ASB’s values home with him, volunteering for New Zealand Aids Foundation and OUTLine NZ.
Christchurch-based Alex Silvester (she/her) will celebrate five years at ASB this July, initially starting as a concierge working the tellers casually across Christchurch branches. She has now worked her way up the ranks to become a full-time ‘Personal Banker’.
Alex says working for ASB makes her proud, appreciating how inclusive and accepting the organisation’s values are.
“I have already received so much support for everything I do here. And as Ajay said, everyone at ASB really does live by the five values. I love working for such a caring organisation that treats us as individuals, not just numbers.”
Since its inception Unity has received a number of accolades including the NZ Rainbow Excellence Community & Advocacy Award twice, but collectively feel their biggest achievement is promoting Rainbow inclusion across employees, customers and community.
Over the last two years, Unity says they have worked closely with their partners to deliver a number of meaningful initiatives, including a campaign with RainbowYOUTH highlighting their community wardrobe service, which used artwork designed by local queer artists.
Last year, Unity also sponsored a special screening of local film Rurangi, with all proceeds donated to RainbowYOUTH.
Along with other activations such as the popular special edition rainbow EFTPOS cards and supporting the local gay and inclusive rugby team the NZ Falcons, Unity continues to create awareness with their people, through education programs and a recently launched an ‘ally’ campaign encouraging people to stand up for their colleagues.
Unity are passionate about building as many allies across ASB and the community as possible, creating a wider culture of inclusion and belonging.
“We want an environment where everyone can feel they belong, be their full and authentic selves, have a sense of community and feel connected to others inside and outside the organisation.”
“We need to reflect the diversity of Aotearoa and embrace diversity of thought in order to achieve our purpose – ‘Accelerating Financial Progress for all New Zealanders’.”