Home' HR Monthly : December 2017 Contents 6
recent Deloitte report points to the diversity of markets,
customers, ideas and talent that together drive the need
for inclusion as a new leadership capability. Reports from
established business consultancies like Deloitte espouse the merits of
The central principle behind inclusive leadership is not difficult to
grasp, and can be seen in the wide acceptance of the business case
that organisations do better when their boards, management and
workforce reflect their customers in particular, and the wider society
That said, the practice of inclusive leadership is much harder to
do than the principle is to grasp. Making policy statements about
diversity is easy, but walking the talk on inclusion is difficult, a
distinction that is aptly captured in the often-quoted idea that
diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked
Inclusion involves satisfying expectations about equity rather than
equality. In brief, equity means fair treatment, distinct from treating
everyone identically. We don’t expect all employees to be paid the
same, for example. That would be to satisfy a silly notion of equality.
We expect gradations from lower pay to higher pay, as long as each
level is arrived at based on accepted notions of fairness and equity.
In terms of equitable practice, AHRI member surveys usually
demonstrate recognition of the principle of inclusion but also show
that practice against endorsed principle is patchy.
At present there are winners and laggers. Winners can be seen
among the gender equity successes in relative terms of improved job
access at all levels, with 76 per cent of AHRI survey respondents
stating gender as the main inclusion and diversity objective within
their organisation. A nother winner is revealed in the 88 per cent who
report that their organisation offers workplace flexibility, especially in
the high demand areas of flexible hou rs and working remotely.
Equity laggers can be seen in reports of executive remuneration
levels that are perceived as excessive and wildly disproportionate.
Similarly, they are there in gender pay gaps that are not defensible,
and inadequate support for working mothers, including uncritical
acceptance in some quarters that maternity leave is ‘career suicide’.
Support for younger workers in getting early traction is an area of
inequity worldwide. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s business leaders,
and more respect needs to be given to policy boffins who propose
to business leaders the merit in ensuring that the young get the
opportunity to test their expertise and develop their capabilities.
CEO engagement and gender remain key inclusion priorities, such
that getting them right means that other inclusion efforts tend to
have a higher probability of success. For example, the research survey
AHRI conducted with the University of NSW and the Australian
National University on domestic violence and the workplace revealed
that there is a positive connection between the presence of domestic
violence policies and practices in the organisation, and those with a
female CEO and female members in the senior management team.
Things that can be done include insisting on 50/50 access to jobs
with short and long recruitment lists, and pay audits that require
‘if not why not’ explanations. And there is merit in organisations
establishing diversity councils that pursue policies and practices such
as devolving decision making, providing minority voices with the
‘access and confidence’ to speak up while being tough on ‘reverse
bullying’, and encouraging authenticity in speaking out which is
conditional on showing respect.
The Centre for Talent Innovation reports 30 per cent higher
confidence amongst minorities if conditions such as these are in place.
Where such practices are absent, the organisation and its minority
group employees are joint losers. For example, Ernst & Young
research reveals that of graduates who have come ‘out’ as LGBTIQ
when university students, 62 per cent go back ‘in’ when
starting work, and those employees are 70 per cent more
likely to leave than those who are ‘out and stay out’.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Organisations
which are run on the principles of inclusive leadership
are likely to be more innovative and therefore more
competitive. Dr A mantha Imber, author of The
Innovation Principle, lists six habits she sees as key to
bringing about employee creativity:
1. G et out of the building
2. Speak to customers
3. Use networks to bounce and test
4. Accept risk and failure in the pursuit of
5. Recognise and reward success
6. Set the right challenges. •••
Giving everyone a fair go should be modelled from the top.
BY PETER WILSON AM FCPHR AHRI CHAIRMAN
To read past Perspective columns by Peter Wilson,
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