Are we finally at the gender equity tipping point in Australia?

In March 2021 WCEI NSW hosted a Diversity & Inclusion workshop and explored the state of gender equity in Australia.  The conversation was led by human resource and diversity and inclusion expert and author, Fiona Krautil.

For those of us who’ve spent decades championing and driving gender equity there is a feeling of hope. We can see societal attitudes have shifted since the 90s in a positive way, while recognising the pain of the hard truths on show in the 2021 world of power and politics and media.  It’s also been inspiring to see diverse women speaking out about their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse in a way that can no longer be silenced or marginalised by traditional male power structures or the media.

I couldn’t help reflecting on the challenge of the Harassment and Bullying training sessions we ran for offshore employees at Esso Australia in the 1990s. A U.S. owned company with zero tolerance for harassment, we were ahead of where society was at with this behavioural expectation. As part of this workshop we asked our workforce whether they would want their wives and daughters to be working in toxic and unsafe culture, as part of educating them to co-create a respectful environment for women and everyone offshore. At the time with employee and leadership support we stamped out harassment!

Twenty five years later I feel inspired and hopeful that we are at a critical tipping point across Australia with a shift in public expectation that no one should work in an unsafe or toxic workplace culture.

At our workshop we explored how we can all apply the latest diversity and inclusion thinking and evidence-based inclusion research and practice to shift mindsets and workplace culture.

 Five key takeaways from our WCEI Diversity and inclusion workshop

  1. It’s not enough for women to have a seat at the table. As women we need to feel valued and able to fully contribute to help solve the complex problems we face in today’s world.
  • We all need to be mindful and include people who are different from ourselves to overcome our blind spots (due to our unconscious biases) to build high trust of people different to us.
  • Research shows it’s the combination of Diversity (creating the mix) + Inclusion (making the mix work) that delivers the high staff engagement, increased innovation, reduced risk and higher quality decision making. Deloitte research (2019) found inclusive organisations are
  • 2X likely to meet or exceed their financial targets
  • 3X as likely to be high performing
  • 6 X more likely to be innovative and agile and
  • 8X more likely to achieve better business outcomes.
  • We all need to lean into diversity and co-create work cultures that shift from tolerating and accepting diversity to valuing and leveraging difference so that everyone can thrive and do their best work.
  • To achieve D&I “cut through” it’s important to assess an organisation’s current state of D&I maturity. We can then design a journey map to achieve D&I cut through to achieve the desired future state. Using the Diversity Knowhow D&I Cultural Maturity tool you can assess whether the organisation is at  
    • Stage 1 maturity  – focusing on the way we comply
    • Stage 2 maturity – focusing on the way we change mindsets and behaviours
    • Stage 3 maturity – focusing on the way we do business.

Be the change you want to see

The session concluded with the critical role leaders play in leading D&I culture transformation. As leaders we all need to be courageous and step into our D&I change maker role. The following New Zealand Champions of Change commitments can assist us all to be the change we want to see.

  1. Drive change – we build the case for change and communicate the value of diversity & inclusion
  2. Measure progress – we commit to holding ourselves accountable internally & externally for change
  3. Promote inclusion – we lead work cultures that are inclusive and flexible so individuals can flourish
  4. Develop leaders – we support recruitment & development pathways that promote diversity leadership.

For more information

Reach out to Fiona Krautil, WCEI member and Founder & Principal at Diversity Knowhow. Email –  Mobile 0420 520 024

Fiona Krautil is the Founder and Principal of Diversity Knowhow. 

Fiona is a certified member of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), a founding member of the AHRI Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Panel, a national AHRI awards judge and a member of AHRI NSW State Council.  She is also D&I Lead at Uniting NSW, ACT. Her leadership roles have included Head of Diversity & Inclusion at University of Sydney, ANZ Bank, Director of Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, Westpac, Esso and the Department of Agriculture.  Her clients include policing, property, roads, health services, universities, financial services, mining, retail and not for profit.  

Fiona is the author of “Diversity Unplugged – how leading CEOs champion workplace inclusion”.