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Seeking Diversity - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO, AccessEAP

Sally-Kirkright

Imagine that your number one priority is to hire a new recruit at your organisation. 100s of applications land of your desk. You immediately throw away every second CV without looking at it. Why would you disregard half of your potential recruits without even assessing their skills?

If this was 1920, not 2020, you would have been seen as a manager with the right mindset. It would have been common to omit applications based on gender. Only men have the right abilities for the world of business – according to early 20th century management training. So you ignore half of the potential workforce!

From the 21st century, this thinking looks archaic. So strange it would almost be funny. So we are better than that now, we want to believe. And yet not always. Women hold 14.1% of chair positions and 26.8% of directorships, and represent 17.1% of CEOs and 31.5% of key management personnel1. 34.0% of boards and governing bodies have no female directors. By contrast, only 0.9% had no male directors2.

With International Women’s Day on the 8th of March and Each for Equal as the theme. “An equal world is an enabled world. How will you help forge a gender equal world? Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.” I ask myself “how am I doing as a business leader?”.

Research shows that companies continue to exhibit bias by hiring based on privilege, school, skin colour, postcode, ethnicity and religion. While there is anti-discrimination legislation in place, it is almost impossible to prove that particular candidates were hired over others based on ethnicity, religion or gender. Some female dominated industries are hard for men to break in to, so gender bias runs both ways.

For every person we ignore based on these reductive categories, we miss employing, working with, or becoming friends with a broader pool of Australian society.

The benefits of working with a broad range of people mean organisations avoid groupthink - the tendency of groups to make decisions based on the shared worldview of the participants. US automakers experienced groupthink which kept them focused on large vehicles which historically sold well. But they were blindsided as other countries designed fuel efficient cars when oil prices rose in the 1970s. Working with diverse teams shows that there are other means of getting to unexpected results. When we realise that our way is not the only way, this encourages us to challenge our thinking and find better ways.

AccessEAP sees the importance of hiring from diverse groups. Our staff room is an amazing mix of backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. When interviewing, I want to know what our candidates think and how that can bring more to our clients and customers. Having such a diverse team has been a conscious decision so that our clients get the best possible range of professionals with the broadest world view to work with.

With diversity also come challenges, the different ways of seeing, thinking and responding can lead to issues with communication and culture. We recognise the need to prepare, upskill and support our managers and leaders to work on engagement with their teams and set us up for success. Across the business, our teams meet regularly to discuss how our workplace is changing. Our staff undergoes annual professional development within their own disciplines, sharing the new knowledge and insights gained with their peers. We are focused on expanding our horizons to create a rich and exciting workplace reflecting the diversity of the Australian workforce.

Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP

 

[1] WGEA 2020, Data Explorer https://www.wgea.gov.au/data/fact-sheets/gender-workplace-statistics-at-a-glance

[2] WGEA 2019, Australia's Gender Equality Scorecard https://www.wgea.gov.au/data/fact-sheets/gender-workplace-statistics-at-a-glance

International Women's Day- Each for Equal
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AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away
.

indig_flags.jpg

AccessEAP acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we work on and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using this content are advised that it may contain images, names or voices of people who have passed away.