Diversity in the workplace

02 September 2016 / Published in Business

It starts as an issue of fairness.” – Amanda Banfield, Managing Director of Mondelez Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Recently we heard Amanda and a number of her colleagues speak at the Food and Grocery Council’s (FGC) seminar on diversity.

The seminar was opened by Melanie Beattie, ASB Head of Strategic Partnerships. We sat down with Melanie to ask her a few questions about diversity here at ASB, and what she learnt at the seminar.

What is ASB doing as an organisation to be more diverse and inclusive?

We’ve recognised that we need to address diversity at the bank, particularly in leadership. Over the last couple of years we’ve established a diversity council which is representative of many different groups at the bank: gender, parents, ethnicity and LGBTI.

We’re also focusing on our recruitment process and flexible working practices so that we can achieve a position for the bank that is where we need to be for the future.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you personally?

Diversity is about having a range of people that better reflects our population and is fair to all. Chris Quinn [CEO of Foodstuffs] touched on this at the seminar when he said “Successful companies will look like their customers.” Inclusion is empowering people to be their natural person; for them to be comfortable bringing their unique qualities and their unique style to the table.

What are you doing in your team to actively promote diversity and inclusion?

In CC&R [Corporate, Commercial & Rural] we have established a plan with a number of initiatives to support achieving a more diverse team.  Some of the initiatives include adoptingflexible working practices, reviewing our recruitment process and setting up a mentoring program . In regards to flexible working options we encourage everyone to speak with their managers about what they need and how that might work with their individual role.

What are three learnings you took away from the FGC diversity seminar?

Put your hand up. It was repeated several times during the day, and I’ve found it to be so important in my own career. It’s often cited that men put their hands up for something if they want to do it – whether they’re ready or not. Whereas women wait until they’re 110% ready. Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In was mentioned several times in these discussions, and I’d recommend you read it as it really delves into the topic of putting your hand up more.

Secondly, we’re all biased. It can be uncomfortable to admit it but in order to improve diversity and inclusion, we need to accept it and then work on a way to eliminate it from our decisions.

The last thing I’d say is something that Amanda Banfield said – something that I really believe and studies prove – “Diverse opinions are what generate better ideas.”

What is one change that people can make today to create a more diverse and inclusive work environment?

Be open to understanding what is going on in another person’s world. Don’t make assumptions based on your experiences and thoughts, because theirs will be different. Just listen.  If we do not do things, see things or hear things differently, then nothing will change.


More articles from ASB