Learn how to be an inclusive leader in a diverse, complex and changing business environment.
‘Whether it’s your customers or your workforce, respecting diversity and treating people inclusively is the right thing to do, plain and simple. It’s also the smart thing to do, because if you’re appealing to the widest range of people, you’re strengthening your ability to grow, attract the best talent and innovate.’
Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas
A report released today ‘Missing Out: The business case for customer diversity’ by Deloitte and the Australian Human Rights Commission highlights significant unmet customer needs in diverse communities.
Stereotyping, unconscious bias, and lack of awareness are leading to experiences of exclusion for customers. Customers are more powerful than ever before, and prefer to buy from organisations which treat them respectfully and fairly, and openly support diversity.
Less than half of the people surveyed believed organisations treat customers respectfully, regardless of their personal characteristics. As Australians, we live in a country where one in five people speaks a language other than English at home, 18% of people have a disability, 11% of people identify as LGBTI.
Diversity is not just ‘something HR manages’. Understanding the diversity of the Australian community is about accessing and servicing the broader client base, and about better business results.
What’s needed is to build capability for tangible change. A first step is to build cultural awareness, take concrete steps to minimise the impact of unconscious bias, and develop inclusive leadership. These measures are all required to better understand and service diverse customers.
Did you know one in five Australians speak a language other than English at home? And yet so much of our advertising and marketing is not reaching this $190 billion market. Inclusion is core business, and getting it right makes a difference to employee engagement, performance and the bottom line.
Last night I attended the Australian Multicultural Awards at the Sydney Opera House. It’s been wonderful, as an adviser to Multicultural NSW, to see the evolution of this event, and great to see the business case so clearly articulated. I think Geraldine Chin Moody from Virgin Australia summed it up so succinctly:
“Success is when we don’t talk about diversity any more and we talk about inclusion. It shouldn’t matter who you are – it’s what you have to contribute”
As Geraldine emphasised, inclusion is so important for effectively accessing, managing and leveraging diversity. Virgin took an
internal employee-driven approach to their diversity campaign. The good news is, Virgin are reflecting this principle in their advertising. What a great campaign ‘Together we fly’.
As we highlight in our successful, global, Inclusive Leadership program, inclusion takes effort, focus and a commitment from leaders. Get in touch if you’d like to enable a more inclusive culture in your organisation.
It seems an opportune time to reflect on what leading for inclusion actually looks like. Inclusive leaders involve everyone, not only the people like them, the people they feel comfortable with, or the people who they find the least challenging.
To lead inclusively is not always easy. It requires stretching to the edge of your comfort zone, working with people who may have different preferences, different ways of seeing the world, and of living their lives.
As demonstrated so clearly in the US election process, it’s all too easy to neglect people whose voices are less accessible. It’s easy to ignore those with less power or privilege, or those who are different to you. We all have a responsibility to contribute to an environment of tolerance and respect, to overcome our differences and seek to find common ground.
Leaders have a responsibility to set the tone, to call-out behaviour which isn’t appropriate, and to create a vision of the future.
To lead inclusively in our businesses and our organisations means we need to ensure everyone has a sense of belonging. We need to ensure staff can bring their whole selves, all of their talents, their experience and their best intentions to the task at hand.
Beasley Intercultural Inclusive Leadership programs are now being delivered to participants in more than 15 countries around the globe. Click here for more information.
A major new report ‘Leadership at Work – Do Australian leaders have what it takes?’ has just been released by the Centre for Workplace Leadership, the largest ever survey of leadership in Australia. The findings are sobering. Most organisations do not have the leadership required to survive and thrive in the 21st century. It was really interesting to attend the launch of the report in Sydney and engage in dialogue with members of the Centre for Workplace Leadership team.
What’s happening in Australian organisations:
1. Australian workplaces are underperforming.
2. They don’t get the basics of leadership and management right.
3. Few organisations report high levels of innovation.
4. Leaders are not well-trained for the job.
5. There is underinvestment in leadership development, especially at the frontline.
6. Leadership doesn’t reflect wider social diversity. Australia has an ageing leadership, lacking cultural and gender diversity and with low formal qualifications.
7. Many senior leaders don’t draw on strategic advice – they don’t access external or diverse perspectives, contributing to a lack of risk awareness and capacity to innovate.
So, for the good news. There is a clear relationship between leadership capability and high performance, and the more training leaders receive, the better their firms perform. There is a correlation between improvements in self efficacy, leadership capability and workplace outcomes.
Key areas for quick wins are:
1. Get the basics right: Set clear goals and KPI’S, make them visible. Monitor performance, address issues, ensure continuous improvement.
2. Enable innovation: Build a culture of learning. A growth mindset is critical.
3. Develop leaders: Ensure leadership development is at frontline levels, not just senior leadership. Access training, coaching and mentoring.
4. Access strategic advice: In times of market and competitive pressure and volatility, leaders need help to ‘make sense’ of what’s happening and make informed decisions.
We’re all leading turnaround businesses defined by the realities of complexity, ambiguity and change. Investment in leadership pays dividends. It is also critical to enable performance.