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Conversations with leaders in 2023

In 2023 we noticed how conversations about diversity and inclusion have matured and expanded.

More and more conversations with leaders and employees reflected an awareness of neurodiversity and the importance of practices such as flexible working hours, sensory rooms and devices, and including diverse communication styles. Many conversations about the use of gender pronouns, for example, morphed from ‘why is this important?’ to ‘how can I show my support?’ 

More focused on tangible actions leaders can take (and are taking) to encourage people to speak up with ideas, questions and concerns, particularly those from historically under-represented groups. 

The conversations reflected a growing appreciation that diverse and inclusive workplaces help to attract and retain people, improve innovation and company reputation, among many other benefits.

These conversations have occurred during our workshops in the boardrooms, meeting rooms and virtual rooms of some of Australia’s largest and well-known organisations. They also occurred in local councils, in radiology practices, in global toy design teams, and among fashion brands, if our clients are anything to go by.

A good example of this conversational maturity comes from our work with a large regional Victorian council that has welcomed residents from increasingly culturally diverse backgrounds over the past decade. We’ve been delivering inclusive leadership education to all employees on a regular basis since 2018.

Back then, the conversations with council team members reflected relatively low awareness about diversity and inclusion. Today, the conversations cover everything from how stereotypes and biases can negatively impact decision making in the workplace to everyday inclusive actions that are supporting the community’s diverse needs.

Throughout 2023 we educated thousands of leaders of media organisations, law firms, consulting firms, arts centres, regional councils, port authorities, retail brands, resource organisations, and health districts across Australia to build their capability to lead diverse teams with an inclusive mindset.

Recognition of the importance of rewarding and promoting people who demonstrate inclusive leadership and build diverse teams has grown with the new positive duty to eliminate sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination. Leadership and culture are two of the seven standards of the new guidelines, and our education programs help build awareness of behaviours in meetings and day-to-day interactions that support inclusive workplace cultures.

About Dr Katie Spearritt

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