Making diversity a priority at work
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
PWC partner Michele Embling says inclusivity should be the focus for businesses and they should be willing to challenge the status quo.