Businesses everywhere are facing pressure to move from shareholder to stakeholder value. In other words, creating long-term, sustainable value for everyone that addresses the core ESG themes of people, planet, prosperity and governance.
Although most discussions focus on the financial and governance aspects of ESG, a theme that is of equal importance is Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). At Socialsuite, we have an expanded and more holistic view of this theme with the acronym JEDI which stands for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The J standing for Justice: "seeking to dismantle the barriers to opportunities and systemic disadvantages to people’s ability to access resources and opportunities."
At a recent business discussion with KPMG’s Josh Geelan, Lead Partner, ESG & Sustainability, KPMG Enterprise in Hobart, CEO Brad Gurrie discussed the wave of momentum behind ESG, the common misconceptions faced by CEO’s of small to mid cap companies and how it can create tangible value. Our Chief Impact Officer, Tim, explores these misconceptions in detail in his recent article.
On the same panel was Lauren Jauncey, Senior Consultant at ByMany, a consulting firm that helps to design better organisations that enrich the lives of people at work and contributes to a better world. Lauren is an expert when it comes to Diversity & Inclusion and believes that we can all make a difference. She practises what she preaches, too - having initiated equal prize money for women and men at Australia's oldest short-distance running race, the Stawell Gift.
I took the opportunity to speak with Lauren to learn more about the importance of D&I when addressing ESG and how it has become an expectation from the Gen Z and Millennial workforce who will become 75% of the future workforce by 2025.
We’re currently facing the ‘great resignation’ in combination with a growing war on talent against a backdrop of ESG, especially with the younger generation. What are you seeing and hearing at ByMany?
Today’s workforce, the younger generation of Gen Z and Millennials, demand that companies are making commitments to tackle climate change and genuinely focused on making a positive impact. This is a baseline requirement. These generations want to engage in work differently and place more consideration on whether ‘this is an organisation I want to work for’ vs. ‘this is a job that I want to do’. The great resignation is real. According to the ABS, almost 10% of the workforce changed jobs in 2021 and it’s heading towards 15% for 2022. People are choosing to join organisations that align with their purpose and values. Companies that don’t consider this will fall behind.
There’s growing awareness that improving D&I at all levels of business, helps to drive positive change when addressing ESG. Do you see that across industries that you’ve worked in or within your client base?
Diverse thinking brings about innovation. When you have diverse backgrounds and experiences you get a whole range of perspectives. This can sometimes make things more challenging in the short term, however, you can unearth better ways of addressing issues or opportunities in ways that you’ve never thought before.
For companies to be innovative, they need to bring in socially conscious thinking. That means fully connecting with customers and communities as well, which talks to the ESG themes of people and planet.
Where have you seen or experienced proactive D&I programs in action and what lessons can be learned from these experiences?
During Australia Post’s major business transformation (when letters were dying at a rapid rate) our CEO at the time, Ahmed Fahour, championed D&I across the company. We recognised that at the senior leadership levels we were not reflective of our customers and the community we served. In particular, we lacked women in leadership so we invested in a range of D&I programs to increase representation of women at all levels.
We helped women at the frontline to understand their strengths, helping to build confidence and supporting them on their career journeys. We developed a program for future female GMs by finding them an executive sponsor, building confidence in their commercial acumen and preparing them for the next stage of their career. Our CEO kept leaders accountable for promoting gender diversity and this change was made without quotas. It was based on an authentic desire to enact long-term sustainable change.
You can tell that Lauren is genuinely passionate about making a positive difference in the world. As we wrapped up our conversation, she left me with this eloquent quote that encapsulates the change we want to see in more companies that go above and beyond ESG.
“I believe D&I is about giving everyone the opportunity to bring their true self to work and an opportunity to lean into their full potential. When you do it right and create that inclusive culture, it has enormous business benefits."