M2 Sep&Oct 2013 Diversity should be renamed inclusion .pdf
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or most of my career I have always been in the
minority. I left home at 15 to become a professional
footballer in England and later in Australia’s National
Soccer League before making the move to
business. I was always a long way from home and
more importantly my family. However, one thing is for
sure, I’ve always felt included because I was part of
a team – in soccer and business.
Football clubs deliberately seek out the best players
from diverse communities, looking for different skills to bring to the
team. Their aim is to integrate each new player and create a culture
of collaboration and success by using each unique talent for the good
of the club. I’ve always tried to apply this approach in business and it
has long served me well.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? But, not easy! It seems strange that in
2013 we are still talking about diversity in the workplace, why it
matters and how we can ‘coach’ our companies to combine and
celebrate the different backgrounds, thinking, skill sets and values of all
In Australia, despite making up half of the population, women just
hold 9.2 percent of ASX500 directorships and there are only six
female Chairs in the ASX200. In New Zealand, only 9.3 percent of the
directors on the boards of the top 100 listed companies are women.
In both countries, the over-60s are growing four times faster than any
other demographic; the disability employment rate is low and large
proportions of our workforce are migrants or born overseas. However,
many companies are not creating workplaces that actively foster and
develop participation and leadership from these demographics.
Deloitte Access Economics suggests Australia could increase its GDP
by $48 billion if we could find a way to boost the participation rate of
workers over the age of 55 by 5%. The numbers make sense so why
are we still struggling to incorporate diversity into the workplace?
Diversity isn’t about ticking boxes or being politically correct – it’s
about building a business that avoids the herd mentality, encourages
individuality and delivers better outcomes. Research shows
companies perform better when they have genuine employee diversity
with staff from different backgrounds providing fresh perspectives,
insights and expertise.
This isn’t just a numbers game – it’s pointless to achieve a quota on
your diverse workforce if you haven’t adapted your company policy and
culture to allow all individuals to feel valued. So it begs the question,
how do you achieve this? Like most things in life, the answer is often
simple: ask. Ask employees what they need to get ahead in your
business – ask what their specific issues are and ask every different
group separately: men, women, indigenous, older workers, LGBTI,
part-time workers, workers with disabilities and migrants.
Once the barriers to fully include and promote your different types
of workers are understood and removed, then you can create a
company culture that supports all of your staff. It’s not just about
changing policies and practices, but also changing mindsets.
In our Australian & New Zealand branches, we actively recruit ‘thirdagers’ or older workers, part-time parents and carers and many of
our senior positions are held by women. In fact 55% of our workforce
is made up of women in managerial positions.
To tap into this talent pool, people need to remove any discrimination,
even unconscious discrimination from the recruitment, retention and
development processes. Offer flexible ways of working, an inclusive
culture and remove your stereotypical thoughts about what people
such as disabled or migrant workers can and cannot do.
Whether we are aware of it or not, we all have preconceptions
about people and may use unconscious bias against gender, ethnic,
religious, age or sexual orientation groups. Managers may put staff or
job candidates into ‘in-groups or out-groups’ depending on who they
click with or based on a quick and superficial decision, even without
As with any barrier, becoming
aware of the bias is the first
step to removing it. Then put
procedures into place to ensure
it is removed company-wide. You
may want to consider engaging
a selection panel for recruitment
and promotion of staff, including
diversity goals in manager KPIs
and supporting projects that
celebrate the positive images of
workers from all backgrounds.
Most importantly always judge
on ability, not what you deem to
be a disability.
Jeff Doyle, Adecco Group CEO, Australia & New Zealand
For more career tips, follow Jeff on twitter: @jeffdoyle67