WNA Blog

Wed 21 Mar 2018

Diversity in the Workplace Means More Light Bulb Moments

Business Consulting & Coaching

Diversity and inclusion in the work place is not just a ‘nice-to-have’ factor – it’s a crucial catalyst for boosting profits and productivity. Research shows that diverse teams are more creative, innovative, deliver better returns and have higher employee retention rates.

According to the British advertising consultant, Cindy Gallop: “Homogeneity is the enemy of creativity. Diversity drives creativity, which drives profitability.”

Australia’s leading diversity and inclusion consultant Troy Roderick agrees: “If you have a group of people who are different from each other you’ll get a smarter solution rather than a narrow perspective.”

Roderick says whether an organisation wants to create a great customer experience or build giant solar batteries, it will get the best outcome when it creates a feeling of inclusion where everyone’s unique opinion is valued, regardless of their gender, age, or race.

Troy Roderick has been championing diversity and inclusion in the public and private sectors for more than twenty years. During that time he’s seen many leaps forward in opportunities for women, minority groups and workers with disabilities but says the playing field is still far from level.

“Twenty years ago we wouldn’t have had a gay Irishman running Qantas or an indigenous woman in parliament…yet we still have a gender pay gap and one woman a week dies from domestic violence,” Roderick says.

While it’s unlawful to discriminate against an employee because of their age, race or gender, there are still plenty of employers sidelining people because of their difference. Not offering flexible work arrangements for carers, parents or students, is just one of many examples.

“If a person can’t bring all of themselves to work, if they have to hide an aspect of who they are, then they aren’t using all their capabilities,” Roderick says.

During his decade at Telstra, Roderick challenged male leaders to take personal responsibility for gender equality by sponsoring female talent and bringing women out of the shadows. That might mean promoting a female colleague’s achievements in front of other people. He also encourages men to call out sexist behaviour and check if they are acting out their own biases.

Barring women from the C-Suite is also bad for the bottom line. According to Anna Green from Boston Consulting Group, companies with more female leaders are 15 per cent more profitable and report greater staff satisfaction and less fraud. In Nordic countries, which celebrate higher ratios of female leadership, there’s also less violence against women.

While many companies are embracing diversity with gusto, there are others with traditional, white men in leadership who are still resistant, possibly threatened by the idea of having to compete with women and people from different ethnic backgrounds.

“My feeling is that men will ultimately be fine,” says Roderick. “Championing for change is a head and heart connection. Most people aren’t evil. Most people want a better future for others.”

Author Theresa Miller is director of millerink media specialising in media training, business writing and presentation skills, as well as video and written content.

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