The 18 men and women leaders featured in Inclusionary Leadership.
What does it take to be an inclusive leader?
What are the hallmarks of an ‘inclusive leader’? What benefits does an inclusive leadership style bring to the workplace of today? These and other important questions have been at the centre of a series of panel conversations we’ve been hosting around the country to mark the launch of my new book, Inclusionary leadership: Wisdom from 18 Australian leaders on what it takes to create and support a diverse and inclusive workplace.
We have been overwhelmed by the generosity with which each of these leaders has shared their stories, experiences and insights in the book, and by the interest and passion brought to the discussions by panellists and audiences alike. From Sydney to Melbourne, Brisbane to Perth, we were encouraged by the high level of interest in an issue that affects everyone’s experience of the workplace.
At the Sydney launch hosted by Amanda Webb, we captured some of the highlights in a series of videos featuring panellists Dale Connor, Managing Director, Building Lendlease; Fiona de Jong, Former CEO, Australian Olympic Committee; Huss Mustafa OAM, General Manager, Multicultural Community Banking Australia CBA; Steve Vamos, Non-Executive Director, Telstra & Fletcher Building; and Mariam Veiszadeh, Senior Manager, Inclusion and Diversity Westpac Group. Amanda Webb also summarised her learnings from the panel discussions in an ‘A to Z’ of inclusive leadership.
One of the videos explores the intersectionality of gender and disability, something I also touch on in this article on the topic of intersectionality more broadly.
Finally, if you’re a senior female professional or entrepreneur, keen to hone your executive presence, expand your networks and elevate your leadership skills, I highly recommend and encourage you to register for our Emerging Executive Women Residential Program.
This is a ‘live in’ program over 3 days in Sydney at Q Station Manly from 29 to 31 May 2017, with an intimate group of smart and aspiring women. Lead by our General Manager, Amanda Webb, this will be an immersive experience that I guarantee will leave you feeling resourced and inspired to take the next step in your career journey, wherever your aspirations lie.
Sydney book launch of Inclusionary Leadership. From left to right: Steve Vamos, Huss Mustafa, Amanda Webb, Mariam Veiszadeh, Fiona de Jong and Dale Connor.
Inclusive Leadership — from A to Z
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment moderating the Q&A sessions between audience members and panellists, the leaders profiled in our Inclusionary Leadership book, at our launch events held around the country throughout March and April.
Here are my key take-outs from these discussions:
A — “Ageism needs to be called out, just like any other form of discrimination.” (Diana Ryall AM, Founder and Director, Xplore for Success)
B — Belonging. When your people feel like they belong, not that they have to ‘fit in’, you create an inclusive culture. (Catalyst.org)
C — “Celebrating, not tolerating, diversity is my vision for Australia.” (Fiona de Jong, former CEO, Australian Olympic Committee)
D — “Disability is often overlooked when we talk inclusion. I have never sat across a table with another disabled person in my entire working career.” (Annabelle Williams OAM, Lawyer and Paralympian)
E — Exclusion is something all of us have experienced in our lives. It hurts. We feel shame. If we remind ourselves of how we felt at that time, we can better empathise with those who experience exclusion every day.
F — Fairness. That’s how kids describe equality. Simple. True.
G — “Gender equality is the unfinished business of the 21st century.” (Elizabeth Broderick AO, Business & Social Change Leader)
H — “How leaders act is key. As a leader, take the culture to where it needs to be.” (Ahmed Fahour, CEO, Australia Post)
I — Intersectionality. It’s the ‘double whammy’ (or more) of disadvantage. People are hit at the ‘crossroad’ of discrimination. Gender and race; age and sexuality; disability and religion. Or multiples of the combinations.
J — Judge and assess all situations with a wide lens on diversity. You will make better decisions and build inclusion.
K — Kindness is a personal trait of inclusive leaders.
L — “Inclusive leadership is able to be learnt.” (Tracey Fellows, CEO, REA Group)
M — “Mirror your employee base to your customer base. That is our goal at CBA, so that we can best understand and serve our customers.” (Huseyin (Huss) Mustafa AOM, Commonwealth Bank of Australia)
N — Now is the time for us all to stand up and speak out for equality and inclusion.
O — “Own your mistakes as a leader, and stand up for what is right.” (Dale Connor, Managing Director, Building, Lendlease)
P —Physiological safety is the ability for people to feel safe to bring their whole selves to work without any fear of exclusion.
Q — LGBTIQ. “I have always been open about my sexuality at work” (Stephen Barrow, Executive General Manager, People, Culture & Capability, National Australia Bank). We need a world where this is ‘okay’ for all LGBTIQ people.
R — “Respect lies in the heart of inclusionary leadership.” (Luke Cornelius, Assistant Commissioner VEOHRC, Victoria Police)
S — Sport in Australia has made some positive forward movement when it comes to gender and diversity. The AFLW and Women’s Cricket are two examples.
T —Teams. “I discovered that building and leading a diverse team was all about enabling rather than a controlling mindset.” (Steve Vamos, Non-Executive Director, Telstra & Fletcher Building)
U — Uniqueness. We need to embrace and celebrate the uniqueness of individuals. This is where innovation and creativity come alive.
V — Values. “Name inclusiveness as one of your organisational values.” (Jonathan Nicholas, CEO, ReachOut Australia)
W —Wand: “If I had a magic wand I would want all adults to retain the innocence of children. Children aren’t born racist.” (Mariam Veiszadeh, Senior Manager, Inclusion & Diversity, Westpac)
X — Xenophobia. The fear, dislike, hatred and prejudice against people from other countries. This has no place in any workplace, culture or country.
Y — Young and older people experience age discrimination at work.
Z — Zero tolerance. Take a stand. Speak up. Call out all exclusion and discrimination.
In October last year at TEDWomen, I had an experience that added a whole other dimension to my understanding of what we’re up against as a community in our work around diversity and inclusion. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw began her talk by asking all members of the audience to stand. She said she would, one by one, run through two lists of names. If the name of someone they didn’t recognise was said, they were asked to sit down. By the time she reached the end of the first list, about half of the audience was still standing. After just five names in the second list, there were only four people standing.
She revealed that those on the first list were the names of African Americans who had been killed by police over the last two-and-a-half years. The second list was also African Americans who had been killed over the last two years, with only one thing distinguishing the names that people knew from the names that they didn’t know: gender. Kimberlé was highlighting the ‘intersectionality’ between race and gender, and how, “if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by both”. The term ‘intersectionality’ was relatively new to me, but the theory of intersectionality was actually introduced by Kimberlé back in the 1980s.
When we talk about disadvantage in the workplace, we often focus on the major areas independently — gender, sexuality, religion, age, disability and racial background. Those who sit at the intersection of two or more of these diversity factors may feel that their multiple traits are seen independently but not together.
Added to these are other factors such as caring responsibilities, height and weight, mental health, physical health, unusual first or last names, mental or physical disability, and those that are ‘on the spectrum’.
One example is a woman who is also from a different racial background. We know that women in general are paid about 20% less than men in the United States. However, research in the United States shows that women of colour experience increased pay discrepancy of 35% and 45%. Currently, I believe there is no equivalent research in Australia.
There is solid evidence that when seeking employment, the factors of gender, racial background, age and sexuality may exclude candidates without due diligence being applied to their skills or merit. Many organisations have moved to blind assessment of candidates where their name, gender, ethnicity and even the name of educational institutions they attended, and contact details are removed. Although the discrimination is unconscious, the removal has been shown to lead to more diverse selections.
On our own soil, we recently heard from Mariam Veiszadeh at the Sydney book launch of Inclusionary Leadership. Mariam is one example of intersectionality between race and gender intersectionality, something she calls the ‘double whammy’ effect. Mariam talks about intersecting social identities on the video.
Xplore’s focus for the past 15 years has been on driving gender equality, but conversations like this reaffirms our recent commitment to inclusion more broadly.
As Australia is one of the most multicultural and diverse countries in the world, it’s critical that we seek to bring greater awareness and understanding to the range of characteristics that impact an individual’s experience in the workplace, so we can ‘embrace’ everyone for who they are so they feel that they belong.
From around the web
- If you missed our Inclusionary Leadership book panel Q&A event in your state, you can catch the conversation from our Sydney event on YouTube featuring some incredible insights from panellists Mariam Veiszadeh, Fiona de Jong, Steve Vamos, Huseyin (Huss) Mustafa and Dale Connor.
- Guess what makes Australians happy at work? (It’s not money.) This research report released last week from Curtin University and Rhonda Brighton-Hall features not only some interesting data, but some fab case studies from workers across the age span.
- Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was interviewed at the ‘Women in the World Summit’. You may already know that we at Xplore are huge fans of his. Watch this and you will see why.
- ‘Sing your own praises and build that network’ — Sharon Rowlands of ReachLocal shares this as a key learning on her way to becoming a CEO, in this article written by Georgina Dent, Women’s Agenda. We agree.
- Let’s celebrate Erin Phillips. Not sure who we are talking about? Erin was the winner of the inaugural ‘Best and Fairest Award’ for the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) competition. She is also a two-time WNBA Champion; an Australian Olympian; a mother of twins, Blake and Brooklyn; and in a same-sex relationship, married to Tracy. Erin, you rock!