WISDOM

“In that quiet centre there is perspective and balance and a recognition of what really matters” (p.138 'Thrive' Ariana Huffington)

In creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces, harnessing wisdom is critical. Every day, leaders make decisions that have lasting effects on their organisations and employees. Decisions regarding who to hire, who to make redundant, who to reward, promote, mentor or performance manage. Consider how many of these decisions are influenced by our unconscious biases, particularly when we are tired, stressed or time poor? Although most of us like to think that our decisions are based on rational thought, and that we treat everyone equally, the research suggests otherwise. Instead, our emotions and unconscious biases play an important part in our everyday decision-making.

The nature of our work sometimes seems designed to keep us from the things that are actually most important to our organisations; rushing from one meeting to the next, the constant distraction of email, and the demand to focus on short-term issues rather than the longer term. While technology enables greater access to more knowledge and information than ever before, many feel as though they have lost control of their work schedules, enslaved by 24/7 access to technology. Success seems measured by the long hours spent at work, and emails sent outside of normal working hours. But are these behaviours really resulting in highly productive, and happy employees? And is it really these behaviours that are driving an improved bottom line?

This style of work may impact our decision-making, productivity and general wellbeing. Our instinctive response usually has a short-term focus, and is based more on emotion than rational thinking. Yet many of the decisions we make at work require time, consideration and consultation. We need to find the calm, quiet “centre”, to achieve perspective, wisdom and balance, in order to make the best decisions for the organisation and its people.

When we look at the top leaders in organisations we generally don’t see a lot of diversity. In Australian ASX companies, men are nine times more likely to become senior leaders than women despite women being on average better educated and entering the workplace at equal rates to men. Unfortunately, the same data is not available for the proportion of leaders with a disability, who speak English as a second language or identify as LGBTIQ. However, our observations suggest that leadership continues to be a homogenous group. We know that talent is equally distributed across the population, so it makes little sense for corporate Australia to draw on only part of the population to source its leaders. Plus, the evidence shows that there is much to be gained from diversity, including financial benefits.

Applying more wisdom to the way we work will ultimately deliver better results for organisations and their people. Part of this is about creating more inclusive workplaces that will deliver better outcomes for the organisation, both financially and for its people.

Diversity Inclusion can help your organisation apply more wisdom through all our services designed to support your organisation to become more diverse and inclusive.

 

WELLBEING

In our work with organisations, we find that many people at work say they are “burnt out”. This phenomenon is not isolated to just the senior employees.

We have some disconnects that now exist in our world of work; one is the notion of having a 'good work ethic'. This idea is often based on concepts like punctuality and putting in extra time and effort to demonstrate your commitment. Many of us were told by our parents that it’s a good idea to turn up early to work so the boss sees that you are committed. We learned that being present at work and being seen was very important.

Australians work some of the longest hours in the world with many workers, mostly men, working more than 50 hours a week. Working long hours has been found to be connected to poor health outcomes such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and depression. But the impact of working long hours goes beyond health and also impacts the worker’s family.

But, we are also working in a digital era where work can be done at any time and in any place. We can be paying a bill one moment and completing a work report literally the next minute from our homes, the office or a café. It is what we call “work/life chaos”, the concept that we have come to expect that work will spill into our personal lives and visa versa.

The disconnect is clear: we still rely on our old-fashioned ideas of what commitment looks like at work (i.e. a worker who is present and seen at work) and, instead of using technology to provide us with a more integrated life, we tend to use it as a way to cram more hours of work into the day and night, sometimes sending emails outside of normal working hours as a way to demonstrate to others that we are still working, even when we are not present.

We feel guilty when we arrive 'late' or leave 'early' from work, even if we are working more than the hours stated in our contracts and are performing well in our jobs. This guilt also wracks many at work as their thoughts turn to loved ones; pre-school children in care, school children in after-school care, teenagers arriving to an empty home, pets left at home alone, missed family events and ageing parents requiring increasing amounts of care and attention. Men and women feel increasingly rushed for time, stretched, and conflicted over their home and work responsibilities. Each work day is a matter of 'survival', rather than thriving and delivering real value to the organisation.

Rushing to get things done creates a physiological change in our bodies. In this state we are in 'fight or flight' mode, and our focus is on our immediate survival. Decisions must be made quickly and, in these circumstances, we rely heavily on the heuristics our brains have developed to make sense of the complex world we live in. This makes us more susceptible to using stereotypes and biases in our everyday decision-making, leading us away from using wisdom at work and at home.

Our workplace cultures are reinforcing this approach to work and undermining our well-being and ultimately the performance of our organisations. When:

·         promotions are awarded to those working the longest hours, rather than those delivering the best outcomes,

·         colleagues say 'good afternoon' when someone arrives in the workplace after 9am,

·         a leader disguises leaving the office to attend their child’s sports day as going to a client meeting, and

·         workers wear sleepless nights and their back-to-back schedules as a badge of honour,

we all learn that there is only one way to get ahead. We must consider, cost is this style of work to the individual and the organisation?

At Diversity Inclusion, we support organisations to maximise the organisation's and employees' well-being by creating new ways of work and measuring performance that are better suited to our world today, and which supports a more diverse and inclusive place to work.

 

WONDER

“Wonder is the beginning of Wisdom” (Socrates).

How many of us, during the course of our busy lives, wonder if there is a better way:  a better way to work, a better way to live and a better way to run our organisations? The word ‘wonder’ seems out of place when we are talking about our workplaces, because so many of us leave our passions and the things we really care about behind when we go to work.

At Diversity Inclusion we believe that wonder is synonymous with the workplace, both for organisations and the individuals within them. Our work provides us with an opportunity to create wonder and fulfilment in our individual lives. There will always be aspects of our work that we don’t love, but we should all seek out the areas of work that we enjoy. Indeed, leaders have a responsibility to help their people find their ‘wonder’ at work. The benefits of this for the individual are significant in terms of well-being and health, but the benefits also extend to the organisation in terms of performance, employee engagement and commitment.

“When we are doing something we love, it doesn’t feel like work.”

Many organisations are now seeking to increase their levels of diversity, feeling the need to demonstrate they too are ‘on board’ with this concept. But how many are truly aware of the ‘wonder’ that diversity can bring to their organisations? Today, many organisations are simply focused on achieving a KPI (Key Performance Indicator); yet reducing diversity down to a number can strip this approach of its wonder.

The business case for diversity is well established, and we work with organisations to assist them in developing a strategic plan for diversity that supports them to achieve their overarching business plan. Something interesting happens when you take a homogenous team and you add people who are different. The new people bring diversity of thought and experience, but the original members of the team also behave differently. It turns out that teams made up of different kinds of people are more likely to contribute and challenge as individuals, leading to more effective decision-making, and more successful teams.

Doing the same thing because that is the way it has always been done is so often the reason behind the ways in which we work. But we know that doing the same thing over and over again will get you the same results. For organisations seeking new results and outcomes, their leaders need to wonder if there is an alternative approach. Diversity Inclusion helps organisations achieve this through Future Work and strategies to achieve greater diversity and inclusion.