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FEATURE: INCLUSION & DIVERSITY
a workplace culture where there are constant gay jokes, because
everyone thinks there are no gay people among them, they’re going
to be very reluctant to seek assistance,” he says.
Chong’s efforts in support of LGBTI personnel have been
recognised by the ADF who awarded him a Gold Commendation
for services delivered to improve diversity and inclusion since 2006.
Chong says it’s important that everyone understands the extent of
the ADF’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“It’s an enabler. It means we have to deal with discrimination
and unconscious bias, so that everyone feels safe and valued and is
capable of getting on with their primary jobs, which is delivering
DIVERSITY MANAGER, COMMONWEALTH BANK.
When Donna Purcell turned up for a job interview at a
Commonwealth Bank building in the heart of Sydney, she noticed
that the lifts didn’t audibly annou nce the floors. It’s a handy
feature for anyone in a crowded lift, but crucial for Purcell, who is
She mentioned it during her interview, pointing out that the lifts
in most modern buildings include voice software that can be simply
activated. On returning for a second interview, she was delighted to
find ‘talking lifts’.
“I thought, ‘Even if I don’t get the job, at least I’ve made a
difference just coming in for an interview’. It really impressed me
that management was listening to what I was saying.”
Today, as Commonwealth Bank’s diversity manager, Purcell is
in the driver’s seat to improve access for customers and staff with
disabilities. Responsible for the bank’s annual accessibility and
inclusion plan, she says it’s the fi rst time she has felt that having a
disability was an advantage.
“The good thing about working at CommBank is that most
of the environment is very accessible, and for those areas where
improvement is needed, that’s now my job. It’s the fi rst time I’ve
been in a job where I feel confident about raising issues where access
can be improved. A nd I’m listened to and my ideas are acted upon.
In the past, she says, if it wasn’t related to her job, she feared
being labelled a trouble-maker if she spoke up and complained.
“As a person with disability, you want people to have a positive
experience; you don’t want them to think it’s hard or difficult
because you have a disability.”
One of the ways the bank builds awareness is through a network
of employees who are passionate about inclusion projects. Three
networks of employees were established in 2013 to promote greater
awareness of LGBTI communities, cultural diversity and disability.
Purcell also oversees two mentoring programs. One provides
career development to staff members with a disability who are
matched with a senior manager.
“The managers have been through an executive manager talent
program and have been mentored themselves. They see it as a stage
to learn more about diversity and how to make a difference.”
A second program matches job seekers and students with a
disability with a volunteer mentor from the bank.
Purcell began her working life in marketing and community
relations at organisations in South Australia and NSW that provide
support and advocacy for people with vision impairments. She was
keen to escape the perception that it was a token job because of her
ow n impairment and began applying for jobs elsewhere.
Despite years of experience and study, fi nding another job was
very difficult. “Pretty much every application got me an interview,
although I didn’t mention having a disability. So my application was
judged on merit and meeting selection criteria,” she says.
“But as soon as they discovered I was a guide dog user – ‘You’re
blind!’ – it was sometimes obvious that people didn’t know how to
deal with that situation.”
Cancer Council NSW finally gave her a positive response and
the opportunity to work with its HR team. “My disability wasn’t a
factor. It was more, ‘What do we need to do to ensure you can settle
in? What adjustments do you need?’ That was fantastic.”
As volunteer services manager with a team of seven, Purcell
managed 3000 volunteers across the state.
In her current role, Purcell is focused on raising awareness that
disability is just one of the many differences between people.
“Being different shouldn’t be negative. We’re all different and
have different needs. That should be recognised and celebrated.
Creating an environment where people can be themselves is a good
thing for everyone in an organisation.”
“ THE MANAGERS HAVE BEEN THROUGH
AN EXECUTIVE PROGRAM AND HAVE BEEN
MENTORED THEMSELVES. THEY SEE IT AS A
STAGE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DIVERSITY AND
HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE”
DONNA PURCELL, DIVERSITY MANAGER, COMMONWEALTH BANK
21/04/15 4:23 PM
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