Miranda Burdon has been the CEO of Global Women for the last three years. She is stepping down in March to pursue other ventures, including her role as Chair of New Zealand’s leading mushroom supplier, Meadow Mushrooms.
In our Fast Four Questions feature, we discussed with Miranda how the most successful companies approach creating an inclusive workplace strategy.
It has been proven time and again that an inclusive culture is good for business. Is it something that happens organically, or do companies need to be more strategic in their approach?
An inclusive culture is somewhat of a virtuous circle. When you have one you are more likely to attract talent with a range of skillsets who also respect and appreciate people’s differences.
That said, if it’s not happening by itself, I definitely recommend drawing up a strategy. As with any other business issue, this will help you focus on which areas need priority attention to achieve your goals. The overarching goal of your strategy should be to hard-wire diversity and inclusion into everything you do, committing everyone in the organisation to a plan of action.
In your time as CEO at Global Women you will have seen a number of approaches to creating inclusive workplace cultures. Which is the key to success?
There are a few common themes across the most successful companies. But there is no magic bullet – no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for every business. Each company’s strategy must be tailored to its own culture and people.
The most important factor? In my experience, success is almost always driven from the top. At the most successful companies the leader is wholeheartedly on board with integrating diversity and inclusion at all levels of the business.
Developing a strategy can seem overwhelming – where do you start?
Start by breaking down the work into manageable chunks. By using your existing workforce data and surveys you can identify where to focus your energies most urgently.
By understanding the issues and metrics you get a baseline from which you can set targets to work to. There are also some specific areas that are recognised as key levers of change – the first of these is to create a flexible working environment. This supports an environment that is more inclusive. From there, decide your priorities and recognise them as business priorities to work through. These may include, for example, pay equity, recruitment, retention and ensuring a diverse pipeline, and parental leave. The key is to have a clear set of priorities and a plan in place.
Are there any resources available to support companies in creating a strategy or measuring progress?
At Global Women we have an entire section of our website dedicated to Your Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, which includes a factsheet on creating a strategy. I also recommend the Champions for Change toolkit on diversity reporting, which not only provide suggestions on crunching your numbers but case studies from BNZ, Auckland Council and NZ Post too.