On Friday July 6thwe had the opportunity and privilege to attend the Roads Australia Leadership on DiversityForum. An impressive line-up of thought leaders shared their unique perspectives on the positive aspects of increased diversity in business, but there was one thing that all of the speakers recognised which was how truly diverse the audience was in contrast to so many of the homogenous events we all attend.
Setting the tone for the day, Nathan Moran, CEO of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, opened the event with a captivating Welcome to Country during which he drew linkages between the early ingenuity of Aboriginal people who, inspired by bird flight, created the boomerang that later provided the basis for the design of aeroplane wings and mechanical flight. With that analogy Nathan invited all guests to bring the best of their collective wisdom and innovation to the table to solve the issues of the day.
Given Australia’s infrastructure boom, the industry faces an unprecedented opportunity, and also challenge, to attract and retain sufficient talent to realise the opportunity. Director of Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Libby Lyons, quantified the size of the challenge with stark facts about the low levels of representation of women in the construction industry and the enduring size of the pay equity gap. Solving a problem of this magnitude is going to require everyone’s ingenuity to be channelled into the solution!
Our CEO Katriina was given the task of facilitating a workshop for all 200 guests in the room to encourage diverse thinking and innovation to solve two critical issues for the industry:
1. How do we increase workplace flexibility in the bid process & major projects – and reduce impediments to change; and
2. How do we improve theculture & brand of the Industry and identify practical things we can do differently to attract the best people?
The goal of the session was to create an inclusive environment for everyone to actively participate and to channel the diverse perspectives of all 200 guests to these issues; and that is exactly what happened. Over the course of just an hour, the room divided into six groups and worked in ‘fishbowl’ mode to share organisational and personal experiences of what really works.
We elicited both big bold ideas as well as small but meaningful changes. Being inclusive of diverse experiences is not hard, but it does require the creation of a safe space for facilitating discussions and encouraging people to engage openly and authentically.
Diversity works when everyone’s different skills, experiences and knowledge are all equally included; harvesting new and diverse perspectives from people with different backgrounds and channelling this thinking to facilitate innovation.
Within your own organisation, whether the groups are big or small, there is a simple take-out from this forum you can apply: when you are trying to solve complex problems or design a new way forward, ensure that you create an inclusive environment in which diverse perspectives are welcomed and valued; and the best of human ingenuity will follow.
Whether its solving the mystery of flight or gender equality we have all the knowledge we need to solve these issues in our collective wisdom.
For more information about creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture, contact us!
P: 02 9042 1406