Our industry body, the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) has just unveiled its latest research on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Titled Creating Competitive Advantage Through Fairness, Inclusion and Belonging, this report isn’t just another dry corporate document. It’s gathered from the voices of 52 global search clients who have generously shared their experiences and insights.

Reframing DEI as a journey rather than a destination, the report draws inspiration from John Kotter’s[1] respected framework – a roadmap which comprises eight dynamic steps toward lasting change. Kotter’s change model is not just theoretical either; it’s a source of practical wisdom distilled from real-world trails and triumphs.

Considering some of the harsh real-world challenges that organisations are dealing with in the present, including war and other conflicts, political instability, the cost-of-living crisis and climate change[2], the AESC’s survey of over 1300 global leaders (CEOs included) underscored that innovation, efficiency and talent reign supreme as potential solutions. And when it comes to talent, DEI could be the secret ingredient.

In short, DEI isn’t just about attracting talent, but involves developing, retaining, and empowering people within a culture of belonging. The report unveils concrete strategies, from fostering a safe space to cultivating leadership commitment. Each insight is a vital key to unlocking a brighter and more inclusive future.

Also, let’s not overlook the human element behind every statistic and strategy, particularly considering the groundbreaking companies actively spearheading diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives who are making tangible impacts.  Atlassian, Westpac and Sodexo, just to name a few, are several companies in Australia who have received recognition for their commitment to DEI initiatives.

Atlassian a leading software company, has been recognised for its DEI efforts, from setting new hiring rate goals, to building internal communities and giving all employees a voice.  Atlassian’s DEI efforts over the last couple of years haven’t gone unnoticed by employees, building a greater sense of trust. 

Westpac has made significant strides in promoting diversity and inclusion by implementing initiatives to increase representation of women and minority groups in leadership positions, as well as programs to support LGBTQI+ employees and customers. 

Sodexo has implemented a self-identification campaign that supports the hiring and retention of qualified individuals with disabilities and over 2,000 mentoring engagements have been formed through its Spirit of Mentoring program. Acknowledging there is still more work to do, Sodexo is proud of the work done to date in fostering an equitable and inclusive corporate culture.

The AESC report is a call to action, urging change-makers globally to roll up their sleeves and get to work. The findings encourage leaders to brace themselves; the journey towards fairness, inclusion, and belonging has only just begun. CEO Karen Greenbaum says, “We believe that D&I is not only Diversity and Inclusion; it can and should be seen as Diversity and Innovation as the two are inexplicability intertwined.”

In the context of innovation, embracing DEI isn’t just a moral imperative. It’s a strategic business decision. DEI fuels innovation, enhances employee satisfaction, and drives overall performance.

As Greenbaum says, “I am proud of the commitment of our profession to help create a world that is inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible for all.” With illuminating reports like this guiding the way, the future appears brighter than ever.

Download the AESC’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion report here

Do the report’s findings reflect your experience? What DEI initiatives has your organisation developed or what innovations would you like to see? TRANSEARCH Australia hosts regular People & Culture Roundtable events for executives where we discuss DEI and other relevant topics. If you’re interested in joining us, please click here to register your interest.

[1] John Kitter is internationally known and widely regarded as the foremost speaker on the topics of Leadership and Change.

[2] World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2024

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