By Jess Forbes and Dr Katie Spearritt
Improving diversity is a core part of our work. Another core part is helping organisations create more respectful, safe, and inclusive workplaces, incorporating new requirements from Respect @Work legislation and new psychological health regulations in some Australian states.
Our current clients span financial services organisations, media companies, energy suppliers, retailers, government agencies, law firms, arts organisations, manufacturers, among many others. They’re at different stages in their journey – some starting out, some more advanced.
Several of our clients were among the 129 organisations named last week as Employers of Choice for Gender Equality by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), a prestigious citation designed to encourage and recognise an active commitment to achieving gender equality in all Australian workplaces.
For those starting out, we’re reviewing employee policies, such as recruitment, harassment, parental leave, and flexible working to hard-wire best practice diversity and inclusion principles. This might include, for example, updating guidelines for hiring managers to reduce unconscious bias or recommending changes to recruitment processes to attract more diverse talent.
Senior Associate Jill Skromanis, who has worked closely with Australia’s LGBTIQ+ education charity The Pinnacle Foundation in recent years, provides a good example of the immediate impact of this type of review. “Sometimes we may find a discrimination, harassment or parental leave policy doesn’t explicitly call out LGBTIQ+ employees and their families, fostering or surrogacy, so we work to embed those sorts of things to ensure the policy framework is more inclusive.”
We’re also conducting many diversity and inclusion diagnostics. This involves researching barriers to diversity and inclusion progress, as well as organisation strengths, so we can craft a strategy that guides the organisation’s action over the next two to three years. Senior Associate Anna Carter has led numerous diagnostics taking a data-driven approach using workforce information, employee interviews and focus groups to explain what’s working well, and how to apply those strengths to areas needing improvement.
Every strategy job is tailored to the unique culture and business needs of the client. “What I love about Diversity Partners,” says Anna, “is that we get to work on projects with a broad range of clients, and no diagnostic is the same.”
Sometimes we’re asked to continue supporting a client once the diagnostic process is complete. This year Anna is currently hands-on with the implementation of a D&I strategy in a large Australian manufacturing organisation to help them fast-track progress, helping set up governance processes, programs and measures.
Providing leadership education is also part of our suite of offerings. Delivered in a range of formats, from 90-minute virtual workshops to a multi-step workshop and coaching program for leaders, our education programs focus on building awareness, self-reflection, capability and motivation to lead inclusively, challenge unconscious bias and develop psychological safety.
Kristy Macfarlane has facilitated workshops over the past couple of years for thousands of leaders and loves hearing the actions people share once they’ve become aware of how they can personally make a positive impact in their workplace. After completing ‘Inclusion in Action’ workshops for senior leaders of a major insurance organisation last year, Kristy says ““the overwhelming feedback was they were motivated to take purposeful steps to create a more inclusive team culture. After each workshop they each had practical actions they could implement straight away.” Follow up workshops and leader coaching help to cement the learning.
We’re also working on projects to integrate diversity and inclusion principles into the external-facing work of organisations: supplier selection, marketing and customer experiences.
Grazia Pecoraro brings a background in communications and reputation management and experience in accessible and inclusive design around supporting people with disability. She has been providing advice on how companies, especially retailers, can design products and experiences that meet the needs of diverse shoppers and customers, particularly those living with disability. Last year Grazia worked with Jill and Kristy on a significant project to help some of Australia’s most iconic retail brands deeply integrate diversity and inclusion. We’re excited to see new store designs and marketing campaigns already reflecting this new awareness.
We’re excited to see new store designs and marketing campaigns from some of Australia’s most iconic retail brands already reflecting this new diversity and inclusion awareness.
Dr Vijaya Joshi, who joined the Diversity Partners team in 2020, helps us bring a strong lens on culture, race and social inclusion to our engagements. An experienced board director, executive, and partnership manager in global health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and gender and social inclusion, Vijaya is leading the development of a national diversity and inclusion framework for Speech Pathology Australia, working closely with their diversity and inclusion advisory board.
We’re also undertaking numerous gender equality impact assessments for Victorian public entities, applying a gender lens on all policies, programs or services that have a direct and significant impact on the public.
This is a taste of the range of engagements we’re undertaking, and we’ll continue to bring you stories of different projects throughout 2023.