What the latest Australian Census results say about the future of our labor market.

Gender Diversity

The results are in. For the first time, there are more women (51%) than men (49%) in Australia. Then why is it, that our nations most senior leadership roles are still being dominated by men? Female representation on our ASX 200 boards has climbed to an all-time high of 25.4%

We still have a way to go.

While we are at it, over a quarter of our nations population is born overseas, and for the first time in history, the majority of people born abroad are from Asia, not Europe.

Then why is it that Asian heritage representation on ASX 200 board directors is only at 4%? True, this statistic was published back in 2013 by the Diversity Council of Australia, but I doubt the figure has moved much since then.

Why is diversity so important for the future of work?

Diversity is about capturing the voices of everyone. Women, men, different ethnic groups, different age groups, different life experiences, different walks of life.

For companies to truly serve their customers, they must understand the needs of the market, and well…. the census results show, the market conditions have changed.

Now more than ever, Australia is a melting pot of diversity.

It’s no surprise that companies that have a diverse board make more money, harness greater innovation and creativity, attract and retain top quality talent and capture more market share.

But diversity doesn’t stop in the boardroom.

I recently heard someone say if diversity is the door, then inclusivity is the key. I couldn’t agree more.

Inclusivity is about providing a space where everyone can share their voice. It’s about creating a culture where everyone feels comfortable to harness their full potential.

So what can we do?

Recognise we are all different, and that is a good thing.

There are 7.5 billion people in this world, and every single one of us is different. No two people have the same fingerprints. It’s the same with our unique strengths, talents and abilities.

Stereotyping doesn’t help anyone. Sometimes we don’t even know we are doing it. Unconscious bias is just that when we unconsciously hold social stereotypes. Let’s learn to appreciate everyone for who they are and the uniqueness that they bring.

Learn to understand each other and be open to change.

I’ve lived in Australia for over 30 years. I am a migrant Australian, of Chinese heritage. Over the years I’ve been called many things one of them a banana, yellow on the outside, white on the inside. And even though my education has been in Australia I’ve still had to learn how to adapt and embrace my new home.

Early on in my career, I missed out on a promotion. I never questioned why, I quietly went about finding another job with a competitor. The day I went to resign, my boss asked me why. I simply said I found another opportunity at a more senior level. They were flabbergasted. What? Why would I have to leave in order to gain it, I had never once asked for it.

What I realised was, although I had lived here a majority of my life, I still was brought up with my traditional Chinese culture. I was taught never to ask, that if I worked hard, I would have earned it.

But I realised that if I was going to live and work in Australia, I would have to adapt. I would have to put my hand up and be part of the conversation. I didn’t end up leaving that firm for many years and that experience taught me an incredible life lesson.

Open your eyes to the potential.

I once had a client that only liked to recruit candidates from one particular school, an exclusive all-boys private school. No surprise then that the majority of their staff looked like cookie cut moulds of each other…. Literally.

When you look outside your traditional talent pools, you open your mind to the possibilities. The different life experiences, different point of views. It’s a whole wide world out there. Don’t limit yourself to what you know.

Image what would happen if my client looked outside his pool of talent. What if he opened the doors to candidates from other schools, in particular, schools with say with women? What if he hired people who didn’t grow up in this part of the world, with his social, economic background? What would happen if he looked outside his exclusive all boys network?

We are more globally connected than ever. For our businesses to survive, we need to open our eyes to the possibilities. How can we serve a global market looking at talent with the same lens we have always used?

The Australian landscape has changed. It’s time for a new voice, one that represents who we are today and in the future of work.

Phebe Cho is the Founder of Accelus, a new voice in the workplace. They are a start-up talent consultancy and coaching academy focused on shaping the future of human potential. They work with Global 2000 businesses on developing talent strategies that embrace diversity, flexibility and knowledge with a future focused lens. Subscribe to the Accelus movement, and have career changing content delivered straight to your inbox.