Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

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If you’re a regular reader of our musings, you may have caught on that we have a No Assholes policy; because nothing ruins a team like one. It’s amazing what you can get done, and the quality of your work, when a bunch of heads can get together and tease out the ideas in a spirit of collaboration. If you’re part of a team of people who have a shared mindset and similar life experience, this might give the appearance of a team humming along. But what happens if the team is too in tune; if they’re on the same track because they could almost be making decisions with the same brain, such is the lack of diversity among them. 

There have been more than a few examples lately of group-think turned toxic. First, we had the federal budget apparently predicated on the notion that ‘every measure is a measure for women’. And now the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has announced their independent review into sex discrimination in Ambulance Victoria. Both examples are gob-smacking reminders of why we at Lacey & Co do what we do, and that building a diverse and inclusive team matters. 

Who puts together a biggest ever budget to deal with the biggest economic disaster since short skirts were scandalous and manages to leave out over half the population? Not the kind of team you’d have put together if you were planning on delivering a comprehensive response to the challenges ahead. That companies do better when they have women on their boards has been recognised far and wide. We are in no doubt that the incredible #crediblewomen who have responded in frustration, anger and despair to the 2020 federal government budget are on point – diversity in decision making matters. 

The treasurer has acknowledged all along that women have been dealt the tougher hand this time around compared with blue-collar workers, mostly men. So why would the recovery dollars be spent in areas comprehensively dominated by men? More importantly, why is it that hi-vis is good but higher education is bad? What is it we’re building? 

The ‘what is it we’re building?’ question is an important one for all of us. Cutting the refugee intake and foreign aid at a time of global crisis are disgraceful actions for a government, especially when Australia already has an appalling humanitarian record, and this reflects on the values of those at the table. Did anyone challenge this? Would they have been listened to if they did?

All the decision-makers in the PM’s razor gang are blokes – that should have been their clue that some bright minds with, how to put this delicately… a different skill set, might be a good idea. And it is not just making sure women are at the table that is important. Cognitive diversity, tapping into the minds of thinkers with different experience, knowledge and ways of seeing the world, leads to better decision making. If the leadership listened to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, would the PM have really said English is the ‘first’ language? And in the words that followed, as he defended yet another language proficiency hurdle for immigrants, he denigrated the contribution of countless migrants who have made Australia home and in doing so, made all of us richer. And not just in the hip-pocket.

The listening part is crucial. At Lacey & Co our catch cry is ‘integrity matters’. As does diversity. Inclusiveness is the willingness to accept that relying on one point of view means the blinkers are on and important perspectives are missing. Crucially, Deloitte Australia found diversity plus inclusion in decision making led to an 80% uplift in business performance

The Ambulance Victoria inquiry was a reaction to the kind of media reports that make your blood run cold. Imagine having someone check out your butt while trying to save a person’s life – while their family watched in fear and dread from the side. Despite the current moves to establish an inquiry, it seems barely credible that the CEO has decried such conduct as ‘unacceptable’ as the only way such a litany of disgusting acts – and it’s clear the reports are just the tip of the iceberg – have been allowed to congeal within Ambulance Victoria is if managers have utterly failed to value diversity and foster inclusivity and act to protect the safety of their employees.  

We love nothing better than when we help our clients improve what they do and often this is about supplying a new perspective. Sometimes it is legal; sometimes it is assisting with a policy scheme that ensures they can access the best minds within their own organisation; and, sometimes it is helping ensure people are heard through our Anon whistleblower service. 

If you’re inspired to ensure you’re building an enterprise inclusive of a broad range of perspectives, get in touch with us at info@laceyandco.legal. If you worry that there might be conduct in your organisation that is going unreported, maybe it’s time to talk to us about how Anon can help you. And for one last moment of solidarity in frustration, check out Kamala Harris in this clip put together from moments in the recent VP debate where she insisted she be given the respect she deserves. Because we all deserve to be listened to.