Pink Shirt Day at the Museum

Auckland Museum sees the diversity of each of their employees as something that makes their organisation more than what it was without it.

Catherine Smith, Director of People and Organisation, says her staff are not only accepted for their diversity but celebrated for it.

“For us, we want people to feel like diversity makes them actually a little bit extra special in the place that they work, because they can not only be themselves and celebrate that – but we will celebrate that too.”


Internal Pride group

Auckland Museum has a large number of queer identifying employees, including Catherine.

“It helps that I’m able to be out and provide that leadership so people know that actually there are no barriers in our organisation in terms of identifying as queer and being able to progress through the ranks and be a leader in the organisation,” she says.

The Auckland Museum internal Pride group and allies recently put together an audio guide product, voiced by LGBTQIA+ staff.  The product, now permanently on offer and available online, tells stories about objects that aren’t necessarily on display because they have a rainbow connection, but rainbow stories can be told about them. 

“One of the things I’m most proud of is that it was an employee-led initiative that was a pilot and a perfect example of how a pilot can turn into something amazing.”


Advice for other workplaces

The rainbow audio product sums up Catherine’s advice to other organisations looking at developing diversity and inclusion initiatives: start small and elevate staff voice.

“I can’t take personal credit for all the amazing work that’s been done at the museum. It’s the people in our workforce who have lived experience, who have amazing ideas and who – given half a chance and some permission or invitation – will just run ahead of you and you can follow behind.”

She also says pilots are the key tool for organisations trying to get initiatives off the ground.

“Start really small, call it a pilot and don’t try to do everything at the start... I can almost always get a pilot approved because it’s not a long-term commitment, often it doesn’t need a lot of budget and often it’s put together with some Number 8 wire and volunteers.”


Pink Shirt Day celebrations

Auckland Museum’s Pink Shirt Day celebrations will focus on diversity and anti-racism, and it’s an opportunity to reengage staff in their bullying and harassment prevention programme and contact network.

“We have a network in place where people there are fully trained so you can go and talk to somebody without going to management or HR so you can just talk through how you’re feeling.”

Catherine says that members of the  executive team will be wearing pink shirts, which will have impact as staff are not used to seeing particularly the Chief Executive in a pink t-shirt.

“We’re going to leverage Pink Shirt day to communicate with our people that we do take bullying really seriously, and from a diversity and inclusion perspective, we’ve got all the systems and structures in place where bullying can’t happen,” Catherine says.

“I want our people to have the absolute confidence that if they experience something negative in the workplace, that they’ll feel okay about telling us, that we’ll take it seriously and that we’ll address it.”


“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”