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Sharing our highlights, learnings and fretful moments of 2019

Diversity Partners Diversity Inclusion

From our CEO, Dr Katie Spearritt

This year marked our tenth year in business. What stands out, since we took those first tentative steps in 2009 to establish ourselves as a strategic D&I partner to organisations, is that more and more businesses are taking pro-active steps to create systemic change.

Those steps involve a combination of education, conversation, and detailed process/policy review right across the organisation to hard-wire diversity and inclusion principles.

And more organisations understand the benefit of inclusion and diversity – for decision-making, for customers, for team members, and broader communities. Achieving higher levels of inclusion and psychological safety for all employees are now mainstream business objectives among progressive firms.

We’ve seen considerable progress on diversity over the past decade, with much more still to be achieved.

As 2019 closes, we want to share a number of highlights and thank our many clients and partners for supporting our commitment to creating more inclusive workplaces in Australia and New Zealand.

2019 Highlights

  • Facilitating 85 workshops to help create more inclusive, psychologically safe workplaces and improve decision-making by challenging unconscious bias. Thousands of leaders and employees participated in these workshops, which took our team all over Australia, to New Zealand, and to Papua New Guinea. The feedback from these programs is always so positive, and we love that people take away new insights and reflect on ways they can lead and collaborate more respectively.

  • Dr Katie Spearritt, speaking at a Keynote session for the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association Conference, Melbourne Convention Centre, March 2019.

  • Conducting ten major diagnostic engagements to identify diversity challenges and craft tailored inclusion strategies for ExxonMobil, QSuper, Johnson Winter Slattery, Doctors Without Borders, Metlife, Unity Water, Johnstaff International, Frontier Advisors, the Bureau of Meteorology, and Mutual Trust. These are comprehensive research projects to identify what actions will help improve diversity, inclusion, and overall organisational performance. For one of these clients, for example, we facilitated 21 focus groups, conducted 30 face-to-face interviews and undertook a desktop review of policies and data.

  • Helping set up and facilitate Diversity and Inclusion Councils in a range of organisations to provide high-level governance and tracking mechanisms to achieve progress.

  • Working closely with more than 30 leaders from government, industry and academia over 12 months as we facilitated the newly-established D&I Network of the Spatial and Surveying sector. Together we produced a milestone paper: Thinking Differently About Difference: An action plan for boosting innovation and collaboration in the spatial sector, launched at their national Industry conference in April.

  • Running our Monthly Learning Forums with Future Women Academy members to talk through current challenges and share experiences. Our members tell us these conversations are the most valued part of their membership.
  • Our partnership with Future Women. We’re so grateful to work with media stalwarts and influencers across multiple generations, Helen McCabe and Jamila Rizvi, and the whole FW team, to advance gender equality.
  • Offering new programs such as our Live Bias Talent Reviews and Reciprocal Mentoring program for male leaders and future female leaders.

Senior Consultant Grazia Pecoraro, leading a conversation with HR leaders and Practice Managers from some of Australia’s largest architectural firms, Sydney, November 2019.

  • Welcoming new consultants to our team. This year, we welcomed Kristy Macfarlane, previously NAB’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, and Kirsten Edwards, previously diversity specialist at Pearn Kandola (one of our global consulting partners).
  • The collaboration among our dedicated and highly-respected consulting team who form the DP ‘brains trust’ on everything we do, contributing ideas and challenging each other. Learning something new almost every day helps us beat our own blind-spots.
  • The hundreds of conversations we have behind the scenes in calls to the office, as well as before and after workshops, to help create better workplaces, for everyone.

We’re always learning and among this year’s highlights for us were:

  • Finding out more about the outstanding work of Minus18Foundation, champions for LGBTIQ youth Australia-wide, and applauding their growing industry collaboration.
  • Listening to the CEO of SALT, Dave Burt, challenge narrow notions of masculinity in secondary schools and sporting clubs, encouraging a new generation of boys to express compassion, care and inclusivity. Together with deeply-thoughtful books such as David Leser’s, Women, men & the whole damn thing, this movement by men gives us hope for workplaces of the future.

For all these highlights, there’s plenty of lows and fretful moments. Rarely is running a small business smooth sailing. Our business inner voice is full of riddles: ‘we’re not following up enough/we’re following up too much’; ‘we’re charging on the high side/we’re not charging enough’; ‘we’re condoning basic compliance/we’re recognising tangible tiny steps’. And we’re only getting started!

What’s more, changing workplaces can take years. So, we try to take a view of ‘looking at the mountain backwards’: looking down on small victories to keep us motivated to do the work we find so meaningful.

We can’t do this without the incredible support of so many people.

Thank you for your commitment and partnership. We look forward to continuing to make a difference with you in 2020 as we strive for our light on the hill – more inclusive and diverse workplaces.

As always, if you have a query about how we might be able to support you in 2020 to progress D&I, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at

About Dr Katie Spearritt

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