The Diversity Debate… Over Dinner

As far back as 2004 we knew that there was a direct correlation between the number of women at board level and an organisation’s financial success. A report by Catalyst showed that there was a higher financial performance for companies with higher representation of women board directors.

Since then there has been a gradual increase in the numbers of women at board and management levels, but the progress has been really slow. We know that’s not the result of a deliberate choice by any organisation or group, so what is the hold up?

And if that is what is happening for women, what is happening for other segments of our community? Which other groups are under-represented?

The Diversity Debate

That’s one of the questions that Sonia McDonald will be asking a panel of industry leaders on Wednesday and Thursday nights this week.

Leadership powerhouse and diversity champion, LeadershipHQ hosted their first Diversity Debate Dinner back in May. I was so impressed by the solutions- centred outcomes CEO Sonia McDonald drew from that first event that I just have to spread the word about the events this week.

Here are the key insights from the first Diversity Debate:

(Speakers there included Megan Houghton, CEO City Smart, Peter Birtles, MD and CEO Super Retail Group and Martin Moore, CEO CS Energy)

  • Diversity is about a focused strategy but culture is the KEY
  • We need a way to make both men and women accountable for our results
  • The GLASS ladder (source Megan Houghton) – it’s not the glass ceiling which is the problem. It’s the weakness of the glass rungs on the ladder which slows a woman’s career progression.
  • It’s about targets, not quotas
  • It’s essential to begin building leadership capability in women and develop a pipeline to feed them into the right companies and the right roles.
  • Build within the organisation rather than waiting for an external change.
  • Think outside the square when recruiting female talent. The approach which appeals to males doesn’t always work for women.
  • Be honest with ourselves, and with training, learn to be aware of our unconscious bias and the impact it has on the way we work.
  • It’s not all about gender. It is about race, age, disability and It’s aboutbusiness sense, too.
  • It’s a great idea for women to have a sponsor, coach and mentor.
  • Create an internal Diversity and Inclusion board and create your own champions of change.
  • Ask yourself how you are making a difference. If you’re not, then get up and do something.
  • We are seeing women with the right kind of experience, but why aren’t women applying for roles? What needs to change? Is it the way women see the roles, or the roles themselves which must change?
  • Women need to support women.
  • Change – it won’t happen overnight, but should we make it a priority?

In Sydney and Melbourne this week Sonia McDonald of LeadershipHQ.will again draw ideas and evidence on what’s working and what needs to, for good leadership and good business. A panel of Australia’s top CEOs and leadership experts will be sharing the strategies and insights they are successfully using within the diversity space.

In addition to high profile speakers such as Laurice Temple (CEO NAWIC), Amanda Rose (Founder & CEO of The Business Woman Media), Nicola Mills (CEO Pacific Retail Management) and Fiona Vines (Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Change Management, ANZ), the panel includes respected male speakers including Chris Lamb (HRD Lend Lease), Barry Borzillo (MD & CEO Intrax Consulting Engineers), Neil Dalrymple (CEO Bowls Australila) and Peter Birtles (MD and CEO Super Retail Group).

These are just some of the topics the panel will discuss:

  • What works and what doesn’t work when building diversity into workplace culture?
  • Does setting a numerical target really achieve diversity or it is just a numbers game?
  • Is there an organic way to build diversity within organisations?
  • Is there a right way to build diversity into the business so that both customers and your teams will benefit?

It’s important that we start finding the answers to these questions so that we can reshape the workplace to draw on the skills and talents of every one of its members. While diversity is often used as a term to refer to gender balance, it actually refers to all groups within the workplace – old, young, people with disabilities, different cultures and religions as well as both sexes.

Until we can find a way to include everyone in our workplace processes and discussions, we will not be as financially successful as we should be and, as a country, we will be overlooking some of our most talented and versatile workers.

This has to change, and the Diversity Debate Dinners are an excellent springboard for discussion. If you’re available I highly recommend you join these high profile speakers and an audience of committed change makers.

You can secure tickets for the Sydney and Melbourne Diversity Debate Dinners by clicking on the location you’re interested in. Alternatively, we’ve posted the events on our own Events page too.

Like to hear more but can’t make it to these events? Stay tuned for highlights.

Cath Nolan

Founder & Director, Gender Gap Gone

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