One of the reasons why I enjoy my role as a manager at Reward Gateway is because I get to work with some of the best talent in our industry. The diversity of our staff is one of our greatest assets, the reason why we can provide the level of service that keeps our clients happy and our business growing.
In a competitive job market, attracting top talent isn’t easy, and as a people leader I’m always conscious of how I’m creating an environment where we embrace everyone’s unique skills and qualities, and challenge and support each other in both our professional and personal growth.
If supporting an employee’s personal interests and goals sounds strange for your organisation, it’s probably worth noting that the Australian Government’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy acknowledges:
every employee, of any gender, age, ethnicity or cultural background, disability, sexual orientation, religious faith, political affiliation, socioeconomic origin, or family responsibility can make valuable contributions to achieving business outcomes.
Respecting and valuing a whole person and their individual differences and removing barriers so employees can fully participate in their work not is not only good for your people’s sense of fulfilment and wellbeing, it also impacts your business’ bottom line. According to the CEB Corporate Leadership Council™ a diverse and inclusive organisation increases employee intent to stay by as much as 24%, commitment to colleagues and team collaboration and effectiveness by as much as 21%, and provides more opportunities to problem-solve and innovate.
In other words, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to ongoing employee engagement and business success.
This has been a priority for how we treat our employees at Reward Gateway, and now that we’re halfway through Diversity and Inclusion week, I’m conscious of how we can improve and provide a place to work that celebrates and supports what everyone values and brings to the table.
Inclusion starts with getting employees involved in the conversation
A few years ago, Debra Corey, our Group Reward Director, ran an internal employee benefits review and asked for everyone to pick what five benefits were most important to them. Instead of taking a blanket approach and assuming everyone valued and wanted the same things, doing this gave the leadership team an understanding of what was important to Reward Gateway’s geographically and culturally diverse workforce.
Having a gender neutral parental leave policy is a small way we’re challenging gender stereotypes – it enables parents to choose or change who the primary caregiver will be any time in those first twelve months of a baby being born.
Having senior leaders who advocate and practice flexible working might be one of the reasons we have the high representation of women in leadership positions that we do – we give employees the autonomy to determine when and where they can do their best work. For parents like me, this supports healthier work-life integration where dads can leave early to pick up their kids from school, and mums can log onto an international call after putting their kids to bed.
Breaking down barriers with gender-neutral parental leave
Being able to spend time with my kids when they were newborns was the best. It meant my wife and I could focus on this big milestone without the added stress of worrying about a drop in salary. Being able to trust my team to look after things in my absence, and knowing I had their support to take that time away from work meant I could totally focus on what was going on at home. I think that ability to disengage completely is equally important to being able to the time off; I know some people who get parental leave but spend a lot of that time reading emails or taking phone calls and they feel like they’re missing out.
When our second child was born, I had the option to take up to four weeks off in the first 12 months. Instead of taking it in one big chunk, as is sometimes the only option offered by other companies, I spread those four weeks out over a longer period. For over two months, I worked on the three days my eldest child was in day care, and spent the other two days with my family.
As a manager, this experience has made me realise the importance of giving my team the flexibility to take leave when they need it. Can it be hard for a business to operate like this? Sure. But we need to be accommodating to that in order to build a genuine inclusiveness.
Building a diverse workforce that is strong and effective is just as much about supporting our people through different stages of their life and career, and enabling equal participation and respect at work.