We love a good podcast and this week we tuned in to an insightful episode from the Future Women Leadership Series on Creating a Sense of Belonging.

In today’s world of business, we hear a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion, but do we know if this talk is being translated into actual results? And do we know what steps proactive organisations are taking to make a positive impact?  

Aubrey Blanche is the head of Diversity and Belonging at software giant Atlassian. In this podcast (link: https://futurewomen.com/future-women-leadership-series-podcast/)she provides insights into the intentional actions Atlassian are implementing to ensure they achieve meaningful results in creating a true sense of belonging among teams.

In relation to the workplace, diversity refers to ensuring the talent pool you recruit, retain, and develop is a varied one. This means making a deliberate effort to ensure that everything from different genders, ethnicity, religions, sexual orientations, and abilities are all well-represented and valued within your organisation.

The benefits of diversity in the workplace are abundant.There has been significant research into the benefits gained from engaging with a diverse workforce.  The results show higher rates of innovation, creativity, engagement, retention, faster problem solving,better decision making and higher profits for the organisation. Despite all this, many organisations both in Australia and globally are failing to legitimately claim to have a truly diverse workforce.

Blanche explains that, when looking at the data, most people believe that diversity and inclusion are important, however the belief alone is not enough to make an impact. For organisations to make positive shifts, they need to make an intentional effort towards the cause. And this effort should be clearly linked to your organisations ‘why’ to ensure genuine success.Attempting to invest only in token efforts to improve face value statistics is not going to translate into true and lasting culture change. Organisations should aim to understand why they are investing in change actions and how it links to their company values, then develop strategies that will align with those genuine goals.

At Atlassian, they have evolved the language from ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ to ‘Diversity and Belonging’ – why? Because we all know that human beings have a fundamental desire to belong. By adapting the language to evoke important emotions we can create more impact. Not only that, but in Blanche’s opinion, the word ‘inclusion’ involves the connotation that the minority groups are being allowed to ‘fit in’ with the conventional white male population. Which is clearly not the intention, but you can see how the shift in language takes on a more impactful outcome.

“Ask majority groups to imagine a moment when they didn’t belong… That feeling in your stomach when you walk into a party when you don’t know anyone.What if that was the feeling you had every day when you walked into work.” Aubrey Blanche

Blanche offers some practical advice on simple actions you can take to begin the shift towards a culture of belonging. It starts with small tips that individuals are able to implement, such as being mindful of how people are treated during meetings and encouraging respectful language. On a more structural level, Blanche recommends organisations consistently measure what is going on across the employee lifecycle – from hiring, promotions, pay equity and attrition. Looking at whether there are any discrepancies that highlight a particular cohort and how can you introduce improvements at each of these stages.

Atlassian also measure employee engagement twice a year,focusing on particular questions that are reliable indicators for measuring inclusion and diversity. Other strategies include consistency during recruitment, including structured interview questions and balanced representation on interview panels. And performance appraisals that are strategically designed to support a diverse and inclusive workforce. By designing appraisals to support this an opening is provided in the scope of review to include non-traditional contributions to team and organisation as opposed to the conventional appraisal that is based solely on results based on KPI measurements. Overall, employees are encouraged to embrace their identity and unique differences with an understanding that when people are free to be themselves, they are able to do their best work.

Much of these strategies are not complicated, but they do require conscious effort. In a world where there are still significant gaps in equal representation among a variety of groups, it is clear that intentional action is required to ensure positive changes occur.

If you are not sure whereto start or if you would like further information on your organisational culture and diversity – we can help email solve@fiveseven.com.au.

Rachel Lockey

Rachel is a highly dedicated and passionate member of the FiveSeven Consulting Team. She brings a wealth of practical knowledge....

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