Supporting inclusive workplaces in Queensland: interview with Leith Mitchell

This week we talk with Leith Mitchell, our Brisbane-based Senior Consultant. Over the past three years, Leith has worked closely with a range of clients including Bank of Queensland, BHP Coal, Dominos, Ergon, Rio Tinto, Downer Group, Powerlink, Unity Water and QSuper to support their diversity progress.

Leith has a background in professional services and, prior to joining Diversity Partners, managed global diversity initiatives focused on gender and people with disability for IBM.

Leith, what do you most enjoy about the work you do?

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'I like partnering with clients who understand there’s a mix of solutions required to support inclusion and diversity. Getting quick wins are important. But it's fantastic to have the opportunity to co-design and implement improvements to systems, processes, and structures for long-term positive change.

'I’ve also enjoyed conducting research for diversity diagnostics and facilitating inclusive leadership and unconscious bias programs for leadership teams in quite diverse industries such as financial services, water resources, and mining.

'I particularly enjoy working with clients who are focused on inclusion; how to be strategic around inclusion, how to understand the different stages of inclusion from initially feeling welcome in the workplace to cultivating a real sense of belonging; how leaders and managers build capability on creating high levels of psychological safety, and how to practically measure inclusion.'

Can you share an example of a client who’s made particular progress to improve diversity and inclusion?

'It’s been inspiring to work closely with QSuper, a superannuation firm moving beyond the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to superannuation to a much more personalised approach towards investments, education and access to advice, to help members reach financial wellbeing. Tuning into the different needs of employees and members is key to their performance, and we were able to recommend ways to do this effectively through our diagnostic and strategy engagements. 

'QSuper has a number of leading initiatives including specific support and advice for women to counteract the difference in women and men’s superannuation. The organisation also has a three-year partnership with domestic violence hotline, DVConnect – the leading state-wide crisis response service.'

Are there any particular opportunities for Queensland-based firms to take a leading role in promoting change?

'Unfortunately, Queensland trails the rest of the country in terms of women’s pay, leadership, flexible work and gender equality policies (WGEA, 2017). Queensland businesses have the lowest proportion of female company directors or chairwomen compared to all other states of Australia.

'This presents an opportunity for CEO’s and senior leaders in Queensland to communicate why a diverse workforce and inclusive work environment is critical to the business, and steps leaders can take to help people feel a sense of belonging at work. The head offices of a number of Australian firms are based here, and it's great to see some of them really lifting their focus on inclusion and diversity.'