Home' HR Monthly : September 2019 Contents September 2019 HRM magazine 13
SET THE EXAMPLE
Blight used her experience to become certified
through the Senior Leaders Pathway. Find out
how you can do the same.
“When you engage
in conversations and
about groups of
people in a negative
way, you are
hen you work in the government
sector, your workplace should reflect
the community you serve. That’s how
Tiffany Blight CPHR thinks about workplace
diversity and inclusion.
Blight has invaluable leadership experience
in positions with teamwork at the core. She is
the acting first assistant secretary corporate
strategy and governance at the Department of
Agriculture and an AHRI ACT state councillor,
and she has spent most of the last ten years in
executive roles in the national security sector.
As with many diversity champions, much of
Blight’s passion stems from lived experience.
As a young woman in the workforce, she faced
various forms of discrimination as she rose up in
the ranks. But the main motivator, she says, has
been self-examination of her initial ignorance of
“When you engage in conversations and
make generalisations about groups of people in
a negative way, you are the problem,” she says.
Blight can recall her lightbulb moment
when the importance and meaning of diversity
clicked. A trusted colleague said to her, “People
don’t realise that when we don’t accept and
appreciate our diversity groups, not only do
we miss out on those amazing people and
their capabilities, but we also miss out on
their friends, siblings, parents, children and
colleagues who would never want to work
somewhere that didn’t accept their loved one.”
From then on, Blight’s priorities were reset,
and she realised that the most important thing
to recognise is that “everyone has a right to be
happy”. For her, that means that people should
feel confident and comfortable bringing their
authentic selves to work.
A different approach
Blight believes an issue for many organisations
is trying to create a singular workplace culture,
often from scratch. This is impossible, she says,
and it might actually be holding back diversity
efforts in some workplaces.
“Culture is defined in so many different
ways – by geography, job, family. There is not
one type of culture.”
Instead of trying to force a common culture,
she thinks, “What we need to do is promote
shared values, those things that underpin how
we make our decisions and treat others.”
When she first joined the department, Blight
could see there were some gaps in its focus on
diversity and inclusion. It had employment
targets, but lacked tactical actions. There was
negative feedback from the existing diversity
networks about how they didn't feel supported,
and the HR team lacked credibility with the
networks to enable them to drive results.
Indeed, the only avenue used to explore and
encourage diversity in the organisation appeared
to be through running events, but this was not
linked to an overall strategy and did not have
Fast-forward 18 months and you can see
an H R professional who has applied her 20
years’ public service experience to work with a
committed HR team to take workplace diversity
to new heights. She also used the experience as
her case study to achieve certification through
AHRI’s Senior L eaders Pathway.
Blight felt there was an opportunity to leverage
diversity to not only increase organisational
morale, but also to support its capability.
Her first step was to set up a dedicated diversity
and inclusion team with carefully selected staff,
including the department’s first Indigenous
From there her approach was based on her
belief that people want to be part of positive
cultural change, but a movement like that needs
a kickstart. As she puts it, set the direction,
share the vision and then get out of the way.
“You can do so much more when you get
people together and give them the space and
authority to initiate action.”
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges was
tackling preconceived biases. Drawing on
personal experience, Blight knew that people in
some diversity groups are often pigeon-holed.
People assume they have very specific interests,
qualities and skills, and these kinds of biases
can prevent those individuals from rising up in
an organisation (or getting a foot in the door in
the first place).
There's no room for assumptions like that.
Not only will these biases hold individuals
back; they will hold the entire organisation
back because the department’s structu re is
underpinned by a variety of diverse roles, from
scientists to law yers, inspectors to auditors.
A crucial role for Blight was enabling staff at
all levels, up to the senior executive, to support
the direction. She and her team regularly engage
with the executives to assist them with tactical
actions and ensure their messaging on inclusion
was consistent and reinforced. Her efforts
supported the executive team to drive positive
change – an attitude which has filtered down
through the rest of the organisation.
Since joining the department, Blight has seen
a lot of positive change. The investment in
diversity resources and initiatives has increased;
more staff are interested in becoming an
inclusion champion; and the diversity mix of the
new graduate cohorts better reflects the goals
for the organisation more broadly.
“Our HR team recently engaged someone
with autism to support us in rolling out our
REACH program for prospective employees
who have autism,” says Blight.
She implemented both tangible and value-
focused strategies to make these changes
happen, and she had to get top-down support to
achieve that, so inclusion would be at the very
core of the process.
Blight's vision of appreciating and celebrating
people’s differences has been instrumental
in successfully implementing a well-rounded
approach to diversity at the department.
Her vision of awareness and acceptance of
diversity is now well on the right path.
Looking to the future, Blight can comfortably
express the significance of that with the adage,
"From little things, big things grow." •••
21/8/19 2:38 pm
Links Archive August 2019 October 2019 Navigation Previous Page Next Page