Spark creates Beyond Binary Code encouraging a gender inclusive internet - NZ Herald .

Html Coding



Spark CEO Julie Hodson hopes the code will encourage digital equity at an enterprise level. Photo / NZME

The internet sees only two genders – male and female – leaving entire communities such as non-binary and trans invisible online. Spark's Beyond Binary Code aims to change that.

Businesses often 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.

Teaming up with OutLine Aotearoa and non-binary communities, the Beyond Binary Code is a simple online tool that builds a 'copy and paste' HTML code so that businesses evaluate whether gender-related data needs to be captured at all, what to capture if it's required, and how they might do this in a way that enables people of all genders to be seen and heard online.

The new Beyond Binary Code provides businesses with a trusted source to improve their gender data collection practices. It is said to also help them build more inclusive, gender-friendly online experiences for their employees and customers.

In a new gender data survey of non-binary participants, more than 84 per cent of respondents felt misrepresented when sharing their gender information online with a business or organisation.

"Data can play a valuable role in helping businesses to better serve the needs of their customers." Spark New Zealand CEO Jolie Hodson said.

"But for Kiwis who are beyond the gender binary of male and female, when that data isn't collected or used correctly it can create deeply negative experiences.

Hodson is hopeful that the code will encourage digital equity at an enterprise level, influencing big data systems in businesses to help people of all genders feel valued and visible online.

The survey also found that if a company is committed to improving data processing systems to be more gender inclusive, gender-diverse individuals would be more likely to engage with the business.

Around 89 per cent said they would be more likely to repurchase from businesses that offer a positive experience when collecting gender data.

However, for businesses they felt had misrepresented them, more than half of respondents said they wouldn't recommend the company to a friend.

If a business determines they need to collect gender data, once they implement the code, its online forms will include options specific to their use such as name and legal name, pronouns, prefixes, and a variety of gender options that acknowledge gender diverse communities.

This will include non-binary and takatāpui as well as an open field for individuals to enter their own, or if they would rather not say.

Quack, a non-binary takatāpui creative and advocate for rainbow communities shares this sentiment, adding: "I think what's really important to recognise is how such a small action like including they/them pronouns can make a huge impact to someone like me. I feel seen and respected. It shows me this company doesn't just want my money, but genuinely holds a space for me.

"I've often been asked why I feel like I need a checkbox that I can identify with. And it's not so much that the checkbox is going to be the make or break of my identity – my identity is a lot stronger than that, but the constant reminder of feeling like you don't have a place, like there isn't an option for you to select, makes me feel whakamā (shy)."

"I hope businesses take this on board and create meaningful change with the use of the Beyond Binary Code."