Ep 1 | Decoding Future Leadership | The Great Realignment
EPISODE 1: The Great Realignment
Decoding Future Leadership is an audio-visual podcast breaking open the capabilities, technologies, growth strategies and mental fitness required to lead our future working world. In this episode, David Bowering – Head of Consulting at Fisher Leadership, interviews Lisa Annese, CEO of Diversity Council Australia.
Lisa Annese has been the CEO of Diversity Council Australia since 2014. Growing up feeling ‘ethnically different’, Lisa is known for leading a broad array of ground-breaking, evidence-based research, including Australia’s first national index on workplace diversity and inclusion, seminal research on the economics of the gender pay gap, and original work on Counting Culture. Lisa has had a long career in the diversity and inclusion space across the corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. Here she speaks to David Bowering on the Decoding future Leadership Podcast: At Diversity Council Australia, Lisa and the team are leading the way researching, designing and advocating for a data-driven approach to diversity and inclusion in workplaces. Lisa believes strongly in approaching diversity through an evidence framework. Data and analytics form the basis of the Council’s approach to helping workplaces become more inclusive. Now that we live in a world where talent is rarer than capital, Lisa discusses why we are seeing a regression in inclusionary policies and practices across the world. But, Lisa insists, hope is a vital attribute for anyone working in the DI&E space.
“With the shifting global megatrends, the goals of diversity and inclusion remain unchanged. We should have equity of opportunity in every nation-state. How leaders hold tightly to the problem while holding lightly to the solution is key. Leaders must critically analyse trends rather than being distracted by them.”
Lisa points to the lack of evidence around unconscious bias training, and the well-meaning people spending large amounts of time resources and energy on activities that actually don’t make any tangible change. Emphasising the need for a data-driven and evidence-based approach to DI&E, Lisa refers to the Diversity Council Australian Inclusion Index. Every two years, Australian organisations are able to participate in DCA’s Inclusion@Work Member Index, which enables them to measure diversity and inclusion in their workforce and compare findings to a National Index Benchmark (derived from a nationally representative survey of 3000 Australian workers). Now in its third iteration, the 2021-2022 Inclusion@Work Index shows that inclusion may be exactly what employers need to future-proof their businesses as we move collectively into new ways of working. DCA’s Inclusion@Work Index showed the incredible impact that inclusion can have on people and culture, showing that workers in inclusive teams are:
- 4 times less likely to leave their job in the next 12 months
- 10 times more likely to be very satisfied
- 4 times less likely to feel work has a negative or very negative impact on their mental health.
- 5 times less likely to experience discrimination and/or harassment
- 11 times more likely to be highly effective than those in non-inclusive teams
- 10 times more likely to be innovative
- 6 times more likely to provide excellent customer service
- 4 times more likely to work extra hard
Lisa notes, “We are able to empirically measure how inclusive a workplace is because inclusive workplaces share some common traits.”
- a culture of being respectful at all times
- a workplace that is humanly connected
- employees being provided with opportunities for career progress
- individuals who feel they have jobs designed effectively
- work that is meaningful and makes a valuable contribution
Lisa says, “Only then will the workplace reap the rewards of diversity and inclusion.” While leaders need to take risks for the sake of change, they must do so knowing that their heart is in the right place. Sometimes you have to go for “a little bit less worse” than what it was previously. Puritan ideas will not move us forward. “The evidence shows that change in this space is incremental. You create change by changing individuals. Systems change because individuals change…Operating in the binary? I don’t subscribe to that.” Lisa insists genuine inclusion is very different from tokenistic measures. Being diverse is not enough, having a women’s group is not enough, having a culture day is not enough. Diversity and inclusion need to be embedded in all systems and processes.
- “I’d like to see workplaces abide by their commitments to create respectful environments or at least do their best and hold people accountable when they’re not being respectful.
- “I’d like to see the gender pay gap close.
- “I’d like to see women not treated as a homogeneous group.
- “I’d like to see more diversity, within groups, of other aspects of people’s identity, their racial and cultural background.
- “I’d love to see cultural protocols around First Nations peoples embedded, and genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
Lisa also speaks to the reality that workplaces can be challenging and complex, and may be stressful. Diversity and inclusion is not about removing stress, it’s about holding onto respect and dignity while working through differences of opinion, or staying reasonable when the pressure is on. Individuals all have varying degrees of resistance and resilience. As a leader, how can we better recognise where people’s tension points lie? Empathy, listening, creating psychological safety becomes ever more important for people leaders.
Organisations have operationalised technology at a rapid rate since COVID hit. But are we utilising technology to shift the dial on diversity and inclusion? With all the resources at our fingertips, we should be able to leverage technology to make more data-driven decisions to better track the outcomes of inclusion in the workplace. We should be able to personalise the journey of every employee. We should be able to design work and learning pathways for individuals seamlessly. But are we doing this inclusively? Too often, leadership development is given to those who need it the least.
COVID has embedded technology into every workplace. As an enabler of workplace participation, flexibility, access to information, and choice of location, technology also distances us from our coworkers. However Lisa questions whether team cohesion can be built away from the physical space. Is it possible to take the good and leave the bad? How do we design work for the best use of technology to support the full range of work choices? The capability of the leader to create belonging and connection in the virtual world will be a competitive advantage essential to the new talent environment.
Decoding Future Leadership is a collaboration between PeopleStrong, APAC’s Customer’s Choice for HR Tech, and Fisher Leadership, each episode addresses the challenges of a hybrid workforce, with a blend of human capability and HR technology solutions. Reach out to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org