Mak­ing di­ver­sity a pri­or­ity at work

Sunday Star-Times - - BUSINESS -

Di­ver­sity is the corner­stone of a thriv­ing busi­ness in an age where dis­rup­tion has be­come the new nor­mal. Some of New Zealand’s big­gest busi­nesses have pri­ori­tised di­ver­sity in all its forms to lead in­no­va­tion in an in­creas­ingly glob­alised world.

Here are the coun­try’s most in­flu­en­tial lead­ers and cham­pi­ons for change, giv­ing their golden ad­vice on how all work­places can foster di­ver­sity.

Fon­terra chief ex­ec­u­tive Theo Spier­ings:

‘‘One thing that’s work­ing for us is pro­vid­ing plat­forms that al­low for more voices to be heard.

‘‘We run an en­tre­pre­neur pro­gramme, where em­ploy­ees form cross-func­tional teams to build their own start-ups...and this di­ver­sity has driven more in­no­va­tive out­comes.

’’Also, flex­i­ble work­ing – en­abling peo­ple to work from dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions or at dif­fer­ent times – im­proves work/life bal­ance and helps busi­nesses re­tain em­ploy­ees when cir­cum­stances change.’’

Stuff chief ex­ec­u­tive Sinead Boucher:

‘‘Most com­pa­nies would like to think they are a di­verse, flex­i­ble and in­clu­sive or­gan­i­sa­tion, but the sta­tis­tics of­ten tell a dif­fer­ent story. One im­por­tant thing we can all do is to prop­erly mea­sure at ev­ery level, from staff make-up to pay par­ity, and re­port on it, so that ev­ery­one un­der­stands the im­por­tance we place on achiev­ing di­ver­sity among our staff.

‘‘The other thing we can do is stop and check our­selves against any un­con­scious bias. Are we guilty of just hir­ing peo­ple who are clones of our­selves?’’

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Jenny Ship­ley:

‘‘You need a clear pol­icy, you need clear in­ten­tions and you need a clear skills frame­work for all po­si­tions and the com­pany. And a strat­egy to on­board peo­ple, so that they are not un­fairly treated be­fore they even start...

‘‘You can tell which com­pa­nies are tak­ing this se­ri­ously, and it’s not sim­ply a po­lit­i­cally cor­rect process but rather, a mean­ing­ful en­gage­ment strat­egy. A di­verse group of peo­ple fac­ing both risk and op­por­tu­nity is more likely to be suc­cess­ful than one group that is too sim­i­lar.’’

Spark chief ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Mout­ter:

‘‘Cre­at­ing a truly di­verse and in­clu­sive work­place from day one, could well be the big­gest lead­er­ship chal­lenge a com­pany will ever face.

‘‘Change won’t hap­pen by it­self. In­ter­vene on val­ues and be­hav­iours with equal weight, to in­ter­ven­ing in sys­tems like re­cruit­ment prac­tices, lead­er­ship pro­grammes, pay eq­uity and cul­ture pro­grammes...Seek and lis­ten care­fully to feed­back from peo­ple. Look de­lib­er­ately for the un­com­fort­able truths, wher­ever they are.’’

PWC part­ner Michele Em­bling:

‘‘Most busi­nesses can start by mak­ing sure their work­place re­flects their com­mu­nity and their cus­tomers. I’ve found that peo­ple like to see them­selves re­flected in the com­pa­nies they work at and with. But di­ver­sity is only step one - the real gold is found when the or­gan­i­sa­tion is in­clu­sive, so that peo­ple are able to per­form at their best, to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo and put their ideas for­ward.’’

Regis­tra­tions for Global Women’s 1 Day for Change sum­mit on 19 Septem­ber are fill­ing fast. Find out more, view the speak­ers and buy your ticket at www.glob­al­women.org.nz

ANUJA NADKARNI

SUP­PLIED

PWC part­ner Michele Em­bling says in­clu­siv­ity should be the fo­cus for busi­nesses and they should be will­ing to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo.

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