Home' HR Monthly : February 2019 Contents Enid Lyons, first woman elected to
the House of Representatives.
February 2019 HRM magazine 13
Join Madeline Stuart, the world’s first
professional model with Down Syndrome, her
mother and manager, Rosanne, and journalist
Sara James in conversation about Madeline’s
meteoric rise in international modelling and
disability advocacy, at the AHRI International
Women’s Day breakfasts in Brisbane, Sydney,
Canberra and Melbourne from 5 to 8 March.
believes, requires a plunge into the unknown.
“It’s really important to have leaders who are
out there being brave, making bold decisions
and taking risks – knowing that not all risks
will pay off.”
These trailblazers can be individuals, like
Madeline, or pioneers in other fields, like Enid
Lyons, Australia’s first woman to be elected
to the federal lower house; Michael Kirby,
the first openly gay man to become a Justice
of the High Court of Australia; or Shemara
Wikramanayake, Macquarie Group’s first
female CEO and fifth on the list of Fortune’s
Most Powerful Women in business outside the
US in 2018.
Trailblazing organisations d rive innovation
too. A nnese points to Telstra, which introduced
a groundbreaking All Roles Flex policy in 2014
after a successful pilot the year before. “They
were the first organisation in Australia to go out
on a limb and do something bold,” she says.
All Roles Flex made flexibility mainstream,
permitting Telstra employees to work part-time,
outside normal nine-to -five business hours
or from different locations depending on
their roles. The company didn’t stop there.
In 2017, CEO Andrew Penn announced
that all recruitment and interview shortlists
should include at least 50 per cent female
representation, which saw the number of
women on interview lists rise from 35.5 per
cent before implementation to 50 per cent in
January 2018. It’s this type of innovation that
led LinkedIn to include Telstra in the top 20 of
its 2018 Top Australian Companies.
Flexibility is now the norm at the country’s
top employers, from PwC Australia to
Woolworths. “Someone has to start, someone
has to be the brave person – or an organisation
needs to be the brave organisation – that does
something for the first time,” says A nnese.
“Once that happens, others will follow, either
because the competitive nature of the economy
demands them to or because they think it’s the
right thing to do.”
Social change can also come from above
via policy and legislation, such as the Sex
Discrimination Act 1984 or the establish ment
of the Workplace Gender E quality Agency in
2012. It is also driven by grassroots movements,
such as the decade-long push to legalise same-
sex marriage that was finally successful in 2017
after 61.6 per cent of the population voted in
favour of the change in the Australian Marriage
Law Postal Survey.
In Australia today, business is leading the
way in diversity, says A nnese. Business owners
have “seen the value in having workplaces that
are progressive, supporting strategies to improve
equitable representation of women in leadership,
strategies to reduce the gender gap, to minimise
harassment and discrimination”.
Statistics support the business case for
diversity. According to the DCA-Suncorp
Inclusion@Work Index, inclusive teams are 10
times more likely to be highly effective than
workers in non-inclusive teams, nine times more
likely to innovate, and five times more likely to
provide excellent customer or client service.
Inclusivity is also good for staff retention.
Workers in inclusive teams are 19 times more
likely to be very satisfied with their job than
workers in non-inclusive teams, fou r times
more likely to stay with their employer,
and twice as likely to receive regular career
Today, diversity is widely accepted, says
Annese. “There’s been a public reckoning
around women and minority groups and the
role they play in society – and in power, politics
However, there are two groups that
remain on the margins. The Inclusion@
Work Index shows Australians with disability
and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Australians are among the most discriminated-
against in the workplace.
They haven’t benefitted from the overall
movement of diversity in the same way others
have, says A nnese. “There’s still a long way
to go before we see genuine inclusion in the
workplace for those two groups.”
Leading the way on this front are trailblazers
who, like Madeline Stuart, are brave and
determined enough to tear down some of
society’s most entrenched biases, clearing the
path for others to follow. •••
Michael Kirby, first openly gay
Justice of the High Court of Australia.
Lionel Rose, first Indigenous
Australian to win a world boxing title.
24/1/19 3:37 pm
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