Taking action as a leader in diversity and inclusion

We know that workplace diversity is crucial to an organisation’s success in terms of profits, productivity and employee satisfaction.

Workplaces reap the rewards of diversity when leaders take action on big issues such as gender equality. But many Australian businesses struggle with a lack of gender diversity and equality.

Let’s start with the bad news.

Women make up around 47 per cent of all employees in Australia but on average take home around $250 less than men each week. Women also tend to work in highly gendered industries such as aged care, childcare, and health and community services – all of which have been traditionally undervalued. Australian women are over-represented as part time workers in low-paid industries and underrepresented in leadership roles in the private and public sectors.

While it seems as though we are making progress, Australia was ranked 35th on a global index measuring gender equality in 2017 (our highest point was in 2006, when we ranked 15th).

Despite these sobering statistics, given the right support, leaders can make a great deal of difference to gender inequality. 

An inclusive recruitment strategy that attracts, develops, nurtures and retains top talent is imperative to authentically embracing diversity in the workplace.

Get SMART about diversity

An ideal diverse and inclusive workplace is not hard to imagine. It consists of people with a good mix of genders, ethnicities, sexualities and backgrounds. When this is combined with equal access to opportunities, workplaces are on their way to reaping the rewards of diverse, productive and engaged employees.

There are five main steps in establishing an inclusive workplace.

1. What is currently happening in your organisation? Undertake an inclusion review and identify what needs to be improved. 

2. What do you want to achieve and what will the benefits be?

3. What needs to happen to make the vision a reality?

While we may know the end point, getting there can be tricky unless you set SMART goals. This means that your goals need to be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

4. Discuss the plan with your staff and ensure that each part of your recruitment, interviewing and retention plan is inclusive.

5. Review, monitor and evaluate your SMART goals.

Make connections with others who are leading the way

As a leader, your words and actions matter. But leaders don’t exist in a vacuum – you need to ensure peers who support diversity and inclusion surround you. More and more women are taking prominent positions in organisations and on boards, but there still remains a need for leaders to access a safe space to participate in frank conversations about diversity and inclusion.

Professional development programs and mentoring have a major impact on inclusion and through these networks, leaders have the support to create a fairer future at work.

Our D&I Leadership Network provides unique opportunities to grow your network while attending intimate invitation-only events with your peers.

Corporate Diversity Pathways is a full service diversity and inclusion advisory focussed on empowering women for diversity, happiness, inclusion and peak performance. We do this through Careers for Women, Executive Development Programs, Coaching for Peak Performance, Workplace Wellness, D+I Advisory and Action, D+I Leaders Network and The Power of Mentoring.