Is it time to evolve beyond celebrating diversity days, making inclusion how you do business all year?

Isn’t it time to move beyond firefighting D & I issues in your workplace in 2018?

Isn’t it time to move beyond firefighting D & I issues in your workplace in 2018?

The first 3 months of the calendar year are always a very busy time on the Australian diversity and inclusion calendar for celebrating our differences –with Mardi Gras, International Women’s Day and Harmony Day events now behind us for another year. 

So, how can you effectively build on the good will, sense of hope, and positive energy that these individual and team events have created across your work force? Do you also want to move beyond firefighting D & I issues and reduce the risk of these events being seen by diverse groups of staff as an annual box ticking exercise with lots of great talk but not enough action?

From a compliance perspective, it’s important to deliver the system and culture change that this years #TimesUp campaign is demanding. In Australia last week, such change has been further pushed with the launch of the NOW crowd funding campaign, led by Australian journalist and advocate Tracey Spicer and supported by a large group of Australian leaders and influencers. With a mantra ‘enough is enough – it’s time to end this now,’ NOW’s purpose is to assist anyone who has been harassed, intimidated or assaulted in the workplace offering access to counselling and legal support, as well as creating strategies for eliminating sexual harassment in workplaces. 

Last week at the AHRI reference panel meeting we discussed the challenges faced by organisations in finding the right time to move beyond a policy and one-off event based approach to D & I to deliver real system and culture change. Our point of agreement was that it is dependent on the D & I cultural maturity of the organisation.

I think the AFL are showing the way; having ditched their Multicultural Round at the end of the 2017 season in favour of promoting 'a variety of community messages' over the entire year. CEO Gillon McLachlan said the 'reformatting' was necessary to consider the many inclusive values the AFL now represent and the evolution of the celebration of inclusion to extend throughout the year.

I can’t agree more with McLachlan’s belief that it’s time to implement an inclusive, leader-led diversity, equity and inclusion narrative that spans the entire year. In this way, together with personal accountability through KPIs, D & I is more likely to stay top of mind, so that leaders will apply a diversity & inclusion lens to all decision making – whether these are decisions about staff, customers, or the community they serve. Having a robust leader led D & I communication approach that aligns with the business strategy is often missing in my experience in organisations.

If you still need help in convincing your colleagues of the business value of diversity, equity and inclusion, another diversity study has come out of Australia this week, showing that ‘women are working harder than men and now seem to be the driving force behind corporate performance.’ This research showed discretionary effort from Australian female employees being measured at almost 7% greater than their male colleagues. The report also shows higher discretionary effort can drive up to 23% higher business performance.

It’s important to note that if D & I is not yet embedded in the cultural DNA of an organisation, it is still necessary to undertake event celebrations as part of implementing a robust D & I strategy. Still celebrating these significant international days on the diversity calendar is important until we can demonstrate that we have addressed the sexism, racism and homophobia that created the need for them in the first place.

It’s vital to understand what stage of maturity your organisation is at, to determine the best personalised D & I approach for your business. To help you undertake this assessment, we at Diversity Knowhow have developed a highly detailed matrix to aid your understanding of where your organisation is at, and the next steps you need to take on your D & I journey.

If you’d like a free copy of this tool, please request one here. With such a clear business benefit and heightened awareness by staff from the recent international diversity events, there’s no excuse for organisations to remain without a robust D & I strategy in 2018.  

Image via Business Insider: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Fiona KrautilComment