Monthly Archives

January 2020

What Does Inclusion Actually Means in the 21st Century?

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Heather Price, CEO at Symmetra, discusses what inclusion actually means in the 21st century.

Transcription

Well, it’s really important for us to define exactly what inclusion means, because historically, for the last three decades or so, inclusion was really just described as showing respect for difference, engaging with difference, and having integrity about your own difference. And if a leader could demonstrate those three things, they were defined as an inclusive leader.

But now that we know that inclusion is inextricably interlinked with innovation and optimising performance, then that’s only half the package. Yes, as the foundation stone, leaders still need to know how to respect difference, engage with difference, and have integrity about difference, but over and above that, they also have to know how to be open to new ideas so that they will leverage diversity of thought to optimise performance. They have to know how to embed enough psychological safety so that people who have diverse views will feel safe to express them. They have to know how to span boundaries, geographical, division, and functional boundaries so that they can access the diversity of thought wherever it is. And they have to be flexible, and agile, and responsive, and adaptive to the ever-accelerating pace of change.

So to pull that all together, ultimately, we’re saying that if a leader’s inclusive, they really have to cover all those competencies in order to embed an inclusive culture in their team and in their practice.

 

diversity and inclusion video series

Why Inclusive Leadership is Critical Today

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Heather Price, CEO at Symmetra, discusses why inclusive leadership is so critical today.

 

Transcription

When you talk about diversity, we’re talking about all the differences that people bring to the table. We’re talking about inherent differences. Those are the differences you’re born with like your age, your gender, or ethnicity. And then we’re talking about acquired differences. Things like your personality style, your socioeconomic status, your education, your industry experience and career path. All of these are what we are referring to when we talk about diversity, and inclusion is when we’re referring to the glue that helps those differences stick together.

In the last few years there’s been a host of empirical research that has emerged which has demonstrated that diverse teams outperform homogenous teams, and that more importantly, you can use inclusion to drive business growth, performance and innovation.

The whole mark of an inclusive organisation is one where people feel a very strong sense of belonging and commitment. Where people actually feel that their voice is heard and that you are accessing their full intellectual capital. And what’s the key to achieving that? The key to achieving that is leadership. Leaders, as we know, cast a very long shadow over the culture of an organisation, and if people want to feel that their voice is heard and their full intellectual capital is being utilised, then you need to build the skills to lead them in an inclusive manner.

We need to understand that today, effective leadership in the 21st century is inclusive leadership. We need leaders who know how to leverage diversity of thought, so that they can optimise performance and innovation. We need leaders who know how to counteract unconscious bias so they don’t allow their bias to stand in the way of giving credibility to the ideas of people who are diverse from them. We need leaders who can embed psychological safety. In other words, make it safe for people to express their divergent views. Pushback, disagree, experiment with unproven actions. That’s what inclusion means in the 21st century, and that is the critical enabler.

 

diversity and inclusion video series

Social media: Have Australian employees just got a rude awakening?

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The High Court ‘s landmark ruling in Comcare v Banerji, last week affirmed that Comcare was justified in dismissing the employee for breaching the Australian Public Service (APS) code of conduct. The Code required employees to uphold APS values, including the obligation to maintain an apolitical public service at all times.

While employed by the department Ms Banerji had posted a series of tweets under a pseudonym criticising the Federal Government and its immigration policies. The Court rejected an argument from Ms Banerji that because she had not explicitly identified herself in the tweets as a department employee she was immune from her contractual and statutory obligations. It also rejected a contention that the tweets constituted an exercise of constitutionally-protected free speech.

Although the case was strictly-speaking concerned with employment by the Federal Government, it has implications for private sector employment as well.  Many employees have committed themselves to principles of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  Ostensibly private acts which violate or undermine these precepts and can be connected to the employment relationship will generally constitute workplace misconduct.

On the other side of the coin, employers are being required to broaden the duty of care to employees. This is particularly so in matters of bullying and harassment. In some American states and in the UK there have been moves to extend the obligations of employers to eliminate sexual harassment. The Australian Human Rights Commission, in its report on workplace sexual harassment due out this year is likely to recommend the same. Employers who want to stay ahead need to start to investigate implementing strategies to counteract sexual harassment.

Symmetra will be canvassing a number of relevant issues pertaining to sexual harassment as a cultural phenomenon at the next session of Symmetra Connect.

Why Diversity and Inclusion is Now a Source of Competitive Advantage

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Diversity & Inclusion has become significantly more important in the last 3-5 years where it’s shifted from being a social justice issue to a strategic imperative.

 

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Transcription
 
Diversity and inclusion has become so important over the last three to five years, where it’s shifted from being a social justice issue to a strategic business imperative because there’s been a host of empirical research which has emerged which demonstrates that diversity can actually optimise performance and innovation in organisations.
 
And this has really changed the way that leaders think about diversity and inclusion. Because historically, they really just looked at it as a social justice issue, about being a socially responsible organisation who could ensure that everybody, no matter how diverse, could actualise their full potential.
 
But what this research now demonstrates is that inclusion is inextricably interlinked with performance and innovation. And that means that this is something they can leverage to respond to the ever-increasing demands for change and innovation that they’re facing in a currently disruptive business environment.