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Creative Diversity & Inclusion LGBT

Spark creates non-binary code to change the way businesses collect gender data


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

February 22, 2022 | 3 min read

New Zealand-based telco Spark has launched a campaign that aims to change the way businesses collect gender data.


The campaign wants to help businesses understand if they need to collect gender data in the first place

The campaign, called “Beyond Binary Code” and created by Colenso BBDO, wants to address the issue of how even though there are individuals who identify beyond the binary gender of male and female, there are website forms that do not provide gender-inclusive options.

It wants to change this by introducing a single piece of code, co-created with rainbow mental health organization OutLine Aotearoa and non-binary communities, that can be added to businesses’ websites. This will update website forms to become gender-inclusive.

More importantly, the campaign wants to help businesses understand if they need to collect gender data in the first place. There are materials in the code to support businesses on their beyond binary journey, including guides on data privacy principles, how to get stakeholder buy-in, and how to create safer spaces both on and offline for their customers and employees.

“Beyond Binary Code intersects two key ambitions at Spark – helping Kiwis have a better relationship with their data, and to champion diversity and inclusion within Spark and Aotearoa,” said Matt Bain, the marketing director at Spark New Zealand.

“Ultimately, through publishing the code, we want to encourage digital equity at an enterprise level. By influencing big data systems in businesses to evaluate whether they need to collect gender data at all and if it is required, they do so in a way that helps people from all genders feel valued and visible online. In time and with the help of businesses adopting the code, we hope to build internet with richer, more sophisticated data scapes that represent the true diversity of Aotearoa.”

Claire Black, general manager of Outline added: “Often businesses default to asking for gender without considering why they need that information and how it might impact the people on the other end of the form. When trans and non-binary people are excluded, misgendered, or discriminated against during daily interactions with businesses, that contributes to an environment that is hostile to their wellbeing.”

Beyond Binary Code by Colenso BBDO

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