While we’re seeing greater diversity in the Australian workplace than ever before, this change isn’t consistent at all levels of the workforce and across all industries.
Which means we’re not getting the full benefits that diversity brings, such as innovation and better decision-making.
For example, while women represent nearly half of all employees in Australia, they hold only 29 per cent of management positions and one quarter of board positions of ASX 200 listed companies. Only 1 in 5 ASX board directors and senior executives have culturally diverse (non-Anglo-Celtic) origins.
People with disability remain significantly under-represented in the Australian workforce. And recent research suggests certain thinking approaches tend to dominate the ranks of senior executive teams, limiting the ability to generate breakthrough business insights.
It might seem obvious, but the reality is that working with diversity, whether that’s different thinking approaches or different backgrounds such as gender and culture – is not easy.
When people come from differing backgrounds, or put forward a different perspective to ours, it’s often uncomfortable. This is because we naturally gravitate to people who are like us (called affinity bias) and like to have our views confirmed rather than challenged (confirmation bias).
Diversity doesn’t just happen over time. It takes concerted focus by skilful and educated leaders.
Organisations benefit from working with a strategic partner in the area of Diversity & Inclusion.
Diversity Partners work with hundreds of clients to create more positive, diverse, and inclusive workplace cultures as well as play a vital role in shaping their future commercial growth and viability.
To help progress diversity and inclusion, Diversity Partners takes a two-pronged approach:
- Hard-wiring D & I in processes and policies, by e.g. removing the potential for bias in recruitment processes, employee value proposition branding and other people processes; and
- Soft-wiring D & I, through education and leadership development programs.
Diversity Partners conducts diversity diagnostics, develops strategies and action plans, reviews talent management policies, builds policies and toolkits on flexible work arrangements, and provides leadership education on unconscious bias, flexible work, and inclusive leadership capability.
Diversity Partners has educated thousands of leaders on the business case for diversity, and ways to challenge unconscious bias and develop inclusive leadership skills.
Diversity Partners’ Founder Dr Katie Spearitt shares results that , ‘Many of these leaders have shared with us how they’ve come to realize some of their automatic assumptions and behaviours have led them to inadvertently exclude or overlook candidates or different perspectives – they’re often very personal, meaningful reflections. And that’s meant missing business opportunities or new markets.’
‘The impacts of our work also show up on a larger scale through more positive results on engagement surveys as well as diversity metrics – for example, improved gender balance or cultural diversity on top teams.’
One client that’s seen great improvement is law firm, Maddocks.
Diversity Partners has supported Maddocks in its efforts to improve levels of diversity, flexibility and inclusion across the firm since undertaking research for the firm since 2009. Back then, women represented 18 per cent of partners. Women now represent more than 30 per cent of partners, 50% of Board members, and there’s been a significant increase in the percentage of men and women working flexibly. This progress is due to many factors, including strong CEO advocacy, board commitment, as well as firm-wide unconscious bias and flexibility education provided by Diversity Partners.
Michelle Dixon, Maddocks’ CEO: ‘Maddocks has made considerable progress in advancing diversity, particularly at partnership levels, and achieving a more flexible work culture. We greatly value the partnership we have with Diversity Partners, which has assisted Maddocks to institute highly effective flexibility programs and unconscious bias education for all of our partners and employees.’
Diversity Partners has worked with more than 180 organisations to create inclusive cultures that are well placed to be the workplaces of the future – more inclusive, more diverse, more innovative and driving growth and new ideas for the benefit of everyone.
Founded by Dr Katie Spearritt in 2009, the Diversity Partners story is a simple one – to create more inclusive and diverse work cultures.
Having held senior diversity roles for Hewlett Packard (in Australia and Asia), Coles Group, and NAB, Katie recognised the opportunity to share this corporate experience more widely and bring some of Australia’s best Diversity and Inclusion professionals together as an external ‘centre of excellence’ for companies.
We set about putting our extensive experience and specialist nous to good use, providing strategic consulting and learning programs to organisations in Australia and Asia.
Diversity Partners works with medium to large private sector firms, state and federal government departments, and public agencies. We also collaborate with research organisations for specific projects to promote diversity in the workplace.
We work with clients at every stage of the Diversity and Inclusion journey. Whether they are just starting out, taking the next strategic step, or ready to measure and refine existing initiatives. We also have specific inclusive leadership, flexible working and unconscious bias programs that can be implemented at just the right time to sustain diversity progress.
Diversity Partners is a team of expert D & I professionals based in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Many companies use expert solutions provided by consulting and advisory firms to advance gender equality. However, the offering of gender equality services tends to be fragmented.
We are working to identify and promote a portfolio of gender equality services from consulting organisations who meet Femeconomy’s criteria. The criteria to be a Femeconomy approved company is at least 30% of women on the Board of Directors or 50% female ownership. This provides businesses with the opportunity to support gender equality through their procurement decisions. Contact us for more information.