A win for diversity is a win for all
- Posted on November 20, 2019
- Estimated reading time 2 minutes
This article originally appeared as a blog post on LinkedIn.
Diversity in business is good for business. Workplaces that celebrate authenticity and embrace differences have proven to be more innovative, profitable and able to attract and retain more talent than those workplaces where diversity is not a priority.
While organisations continue to drive efforts that promote diversity and inclusion, progress is just not happening fast enough.
A World Economic Forum study with LinkedIn found that 22 percent of artificial intelligence (AI) professionals globally are female, compared to 78 percent who are male. When half the world’s population is missing opportunities in a professional domain that is already facing a war for talent, we need to start asking ourselves some tough questions: What’s stopping businesses and industries from being more inclusive? What actions need to be taken? What needs to change?
Getting the basics right
In Australia, we collaborate with partners such as the Australian Computer Society, the University of Technology Sydney and RMIT University to inspire students of all ages and backgrounds to pursue interests and build rewarding careers in STEM disciplines. We also have the Avanade Leadership Program for Women (ALPW) that reinforces our commitment to invest in female talent, increase the number of women in leadership roles and help them realize their full potential.
While these initiatives have been successful, we cannot afford to be complacent with the rate at which change is happening today. As an organisation that prides itself in helping businesses transform for the digital age, it would be remiss of us to not apply our digital knowledge and skills to explore how technology can drive greater diversity and inclusion.
Take for example the role data plays in informing decisions and shaping policies. We can do a lot more as individuals and as a digital organisation to help make data more representative of the diverse groups in society.
Getting the balance right
For people in the workforce, efforts need to be focused on retention and creating a workplace where they can build rewarding careers at every stage of their lives. When employees have the right support system that helps them to juggle the demands of professional and personal lives, they can focus better on the priorities at hand and create a positive impact in what they seek out to do.
Parental leave is one of the ways we promote the redistribution of child care responsibilities and housework. In addition to empowering the primary caregiver to return to the workforce, we want to drive a cultural shift that renegotiates the stereotypes of gender roles in society.
As an equal opportunity employer, we offer superannuation contributions to all our employees – regardless of gender – when they take both paid and unpaid parental leave. This is a commitment on our part to help women boost their retirement savings and narrow the superannuation gender gap.
Beyond policies and practices, there needs to be an organizational wide culture that encourages employees to turn their awareness into concrete behaviour. From eliminating unconscious bias to pay equity, we need to step up and elevate diversity and inclusion as a sense of purpose to ensure every individual feels comfortable to bring their whole self to the workplace.