Bold interventions achieve ground-breaking diversity progress
Symbolic culture change
Last week it was ground-breaking to see the inspirational picture of 22-year-old UK Sikh Charanpreet Singh Lall marching at the Queen's birthday “Trooping the Colour” celebration wearing a black turban – the first time in history.
Proudly he quotes that the day marks ‘a new change in history.' He hopes 'that more people like me, not just Sikhs but people from other religions and different backgrounds, will be encouraged to join the Army.'
This picture speaks 1000 words, showing that in 2018 - even in traditional British military institutions, where success has been built on a command and control culture where everyone has to fit the mould - they understand the need to attract the broadest available talent that reflects the community they operate in, and need to adapt to thrive in today’s world.
An increasing number of organisations understand that in today’s globalised, fast-paced world with intense and changing competition, and a war for the best talent, a culture that is inclusive, resilient and adaptable can make all the difference. This should include;
o A workplace culture that embraces and leverages diversity to build capability,
o Shifting beyond a tick box compliance culture and a diversity “numbers game” to strategically build capability,
o An understanding that time won’t fix this challenge, and that instead deliberate action is needed to embed diversity into how business is done.
The power of targets and working together to achieve a critical mass of women on boards
Also on the home front, an absolute highlight of the power of organisations working together to intervene was demonstrated with the milestone achievement of women for the first time ever accounting for 30% of board seats across Australia’s 100 biggest companies.
With gender policy leadership from the ASX and inspirational leadership by AICD President Elizabeth Proust, we have now achieved a critical mass of women on ASX100 boards in Australia driven by the desire to leverage diversity of perspective to deliver better business performance and board decision making.
The evidence is that you get what you measure.
Australian Board member and Male Champion of Change Kevin McCann believes that without strong gender diversity targets more women won’t get appointed to boards – ‘a laissez-faire approach will not overcome bias, conscious or unconscious, nor the obstacles which prevent women from obtaining leadership roles in Australian institutions.’ he stated.
Despite this Board progress, there are always the naysayers, so I was delighted to see him hit back at suggestions by media commentators that advocacy for gender diversity had led to unqualified female directors being appointed to boards, instead dismissing outright this suggestion as a breach of any Board’s responsibility for corporate governance.
AICD President Elizabeth Proust is convinced that 'Australia needs more diversity on its boards – not less. Diversity of thought, experience, background, ethnicity and gender.'
She sees it as fundamental to safeguard against group think, enhance decision making, and ultimately drive better performance across Australian business.
Taking action to better reflect our community
Our national media content also needs to reflect the rich diversity of our community, so it was great to see SBS intervening last week to increase the diversity in creative teams and content. They’ve partnered with five of Australia’s screen agencies to work with creative teams from underrepresented groups including multicultural peoples, Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islanders, and LGBTIQ communities to create, produce, and deliver more diverse content.
As Marshall Heald, director of TV and online content, said; ‘Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world; The stories we tell and the talent that we foster at all levels of production should reflect the diversity of our communities.’
Diversity makes us smarter
The evidence is in that diversity makes us smarter. When we value the difference of working with people who are different to us the research shows that:
1. We communicate better;
o We ask more questions,
o We reduce assumptions.
2. Our thinking agility increases;
o Social learning increases our cognitive toolkit.
3. We put in more effort;
o We plan better,
o We think harder,
o We persist longer,
o We innovate more.
With all these benefits it only makes sense to integrate an effectively inclusive and diverse workplace culture into your business today!
If you would like to discuss how you can build your business capability through valuing and leveraging your workforce diversity get in touch with me here.
Image via Times of Israel