Sharing positive stories that challenge gender, cultural and racial stereotypes is the best way for communicators to tackle diversity issues, according to the panel of experts at the recent IABC Victoria Driving the Diversity Agenda panel event.
On 6 March 2015, Belinda Gaskell from ANZ, Lauren Jauncey from Australia Post, Norah Breekveldt from Ampersand Advisory and leading author and journalist, Leo D’Angelo Fisher, gathered in front of 60 IABC Victoria members and friends to discuss how Australia’s corporate and government sectors are driving, embracing and promoting diversity across gender, culture, disability and race, and why this is necessary.
During fascinating presentations and spirited discussions, it became evident that, while many Australian industries are now promoting greater dialogue and awareness around workforce diversity and inclusion, there is still much work to be done. Each speaker outlined the challenges associated with diversity issues and barriers and highlighted stories of positive outcomes.
Lauren Jauncey, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Australia Post, spoke about significant improvements in diversity at the organisation in the last five years. Lauren said Australia Post is working to address a decline in their Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander workforce and get it back to parity with the wider population in the next few years. Australia Post is striving to ensure its business represents the diversity of its customer base, Lauren said. She also said they were examining ways to employ more people with disabilities, people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Another huge commitment for Australia Post is investing in programs that allow women to put up their hands for more complex roles.
Norah Breekveldt, Director, The Leadership Agenda, Ampersand Advisory began her talk with statistics about the gender pay gap, which she said is still 17.5 percent (unchanged over 20 years). That difference meant that women would have to work 49 days extra per year to equal men’s pay, she said, attributing about 60 percent of that pay gap to gender issues despite 60 percent of university graduates being female. Norah also urged us all to challenge the masculine and military nature of corporate language, which tends to reinforce masculine thoughts and stereotypes, and to share case studies and stories that break down stereotypes.
Belinda Gaskell, Manager CEO Communications, ANZ, introduced us to ANZ’s Notable Women and Aspiring Notable Women programs that aim to increase the number of women represented in the business media, saying it was important to help them get there on merit, not just as a token gesture. Belinda described how the Notable Women program is helping to remove women’s fears that they are too busy for public speaking commitments or that commenting in the media might look boastful or lead to being misquoted. Belinda said that ANZ’s programs aimed to build women’s confidence through media and presentation skills training to help increase their visibility and leadership aspirations. She also pointed to their BlueNotes website, which provides a forum for diverse voices to discuss important financial, business and societal issues. Belinda has kindly provided her presentation slides, which you can now view below.
Fig 1. ANZ BlueNotes Six keys to success.
Leo D'Angelo Fisher, Management and leadership journalist, author and commentator challenged all of the communicators in the room to consider questions such as: What does true diversity look like and is Australian business anti-semitic? Leo shared seven key insights about engaging with the media and promoting diversity:
- Understand the media, the journalists and what fits with their audiences and interests.
- Avoid diversity jargon. Illustrate your messages with meaningful stories and urge your CEO to talk about the value of the program to the organisation.
- Provide alternate contacts on your media releases that reflect the diversity of your organisation.
- Be mindful of the opportunity to promote diversity through your choice of speaker.
- Provide journalists with a tailored contact list of a diverse range of experts and speakers within your organisation.
- Encourage notable women in your organisation to get themselves onto media contact or speaker lists for industry associations.
- Becoming your own publisher is ideal way to promote diversity of your organisation to key stakeholders. ANZ BlueNotes is a perfect example.
IABC Victoria President, Damien Batey moderated the panel discussion and congratulated each of the inspiring and incisive panellists for sharing such useful and thought-provoking information.