5 actions to help you walk the talk to accelerate your diversity & inclusion maturity journey

High profile couple Jacinda Arden and Clarke Gayford reminding us of a new norm for shared parenting. 

High profile couple Jacinda Arden and Clarke Gayford reminding us of a new norm for shared parenting. 

Over the past week I was struck by a number of events demonstrating inspirational examples of people taking action to move beyond just talk, instead actually cutting through and accelerating progress to greater equality for us all. I've pulled out 5 key actions demonstrated through events this week to help you also move beyond talk in your diversity and inclusion journey. 

1. Lead by example – just do it

Cutting through all the talk and providing a high profile reminder of a new norm in parenting this week was NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Arden. She committed to stay at home for her 6 weeks of parental leave after the birth of her baby daughter, to be followed by her partner Clarke Gayford becoming a stay at home father. Both these decisions show there is no need for gender-specific traditional roles in our modern world; women should pursue leadership ambitions if they so desire, and men can be just as good at taking on the caring responsibilities in all walks of life.

2. The power of culture symbols

Meanwhile, don’t underestimate the power of a symbolic and controversial photo to demonstrate that times are changing. With LGBTIQ inclusion becoming the norm, the National Rugby League threw its support behind women’s State of Origin opponents Karina Brown and Vanessa Foliaki this week, after a social media backlash from a segment of fans angry at the couple kissing after the game. The refreshing NRL Facebook response noted male State of Origin stars are regularly seen embracing their partners after matches; ‘If we can post a [photo] of Cooper Cronk and his wife Tara kissing, then we can share a photo of Karina Brown and Ness Foliaki sharing a moment too.’

3.  Systemically intervene to inform new conversations and new solutions

Another significant announcement that we saw last week was the launch by Federal Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer of a new Human Rights Commission Sexual Harassment Inquiry. This year-long, world first, post #MeToo investigation will offer an ‘in-depth inquiry to examine sexual harassment in the workplace.’ Minister O’Dwyer noted sexual harassment is on the rise  and new policies were required to protect women, as more than 20% of Australians over 15 years old have been sexually harassed, with 68% of those harassed in the workplace. 

‘Australian women have the right to be safe in their homes, in their communities and in their workplaces,’ O'Dwyer said during the announcement. I think this review also provides an opportunity for each of us to reflect on how we would feel if this was our daughter or our partner experiencing sexual harassment, and through this consider what each of us can do to help eradicate it, as well as seek legislative change by government to outlaw this damaging behaviour.

4. The power of identifying roles models to help shift the conversation

I also personally related to this article by engineer Lacey Filipich, calling to banish the myth that there aren’t many female role models in STEM. Like Lacey, in my experience the female STEM role models are there for young women in STEM, they just have to look for them. I agree we need more, but also sadly too often in my experience, the valuable female role models we already have become invisible or marginalised by the dominant “in-group” leaders who say they want to solve the STEM problem, but too often label these women as “difficult” and so don’t engage them in creating the solution.

In my experience these women are inspirational, powerful, and practical role models, as well as valuable mentors. They can also inspire careers and lead cultural transformation by sharing their stories of lived experience, and by getting involved to help drive the systemic culture change required for both women and men to thrive and do their best work.

5. Call unconscious bias when you see it – by sharing the evidence

I also admire this article by Kim Ho highlighting the lack of diversity in the nominations for the 2018 Helpmann Awards. Her question I think is an important one, publicly asking 'do we have a problem when category after category is filled with all-white, majority-male artists?' 

Noting that our unconscious biases are often unintentional, it’s really important to ask robust questions of every panel member to eliminate bias. For example, Ho suggests asking 'what criteria do we apply when we look for artistic ‘excellence’?' Based on the brain science, we know that similarity bias means that if we are not aware of our unconscious biases and the selection panel are not trained to mitigate bias, it is 'inevitable that our individual tastes will inherently reflect our own lived experiences. But if those in positions of power entrench those biases within our commonly accepted standards of quality, we run the risk of further marginalising certain people, their voices and stories,’ as Ho noted.

Her article was particularly convincing as it was supported by the evidence of significant under-representation of culturally diverse authors, artists, writers and directors in the 2018 awards. Despite disagreement by Evelyn Richardson, CEO of the LPA who noted the awards are diverse in other ways, in the end no one can argue with the facts, and in my view these facts require further investigation!

Using these 5 key actions as demonstrated brilliantly thoughout this week, you can make positive change happen by moving beyond talk to instead take real action. 

If you would like to accelerate your diversity and inclusion progress, or would like a free copy of our D & I Strategy Generational Impact Model to provide you with a map achieve your goals, please contact us today!

Image via Women's Agenda. 

Fiona KrautilComment