It’s time to take action for more diversity in business

International Women’s Day is a timely reminder for how we can all benefit from greater diversity in our businesses.

Without doubt, diversity goes way beyond gender, however gender is a logical place to start when it comes to embedding diversity and inclusion in business in a sustainable way.

Diversity and inclusion have been key themes for me for as long as I can remember. From my younger days joining my Mum to visit Loretta, a young woman with Cerebral Palsy, to help improve her quality of life through physiotherapy and companionship, to the launch of FAST’s Women in Business events some eight years ago. For me, diversity, inclusion and championing women are part of everyday life and translate to better outcomes in business

The case is clear

Creating a culture that enables diverse thinking, knowledge and capability can really help businesses to differentiate and stand out, and there is plenty of research that confirms it.

McKinsey’s Delivering Through Diversity report found corporations that embrace gender diversity on their executive teams were more competitive and 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability.

Looking at diversity more broadly, a Boston Consulting Group study of more than 1,700 companies in eight countries found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. This study also found that relatively small changes in the makeup of management can have significant impact.

At FAST, we’ve fostered a culture of diversity and inclusion and the results speak for themselves - greater productivity, more innovation, high employee engagement, customer advocacy and sustainable business growth.

FAST has long been a proponent of diversity in the workplace. It is something we are passionate about, and we have put in place a range of programs to encourage greater diversity, both within our own business and in the broking businesses we partner with.

Gender diversity in practice

Whether you’re a broking business, an aggregator or lender, we all need to be looking at ways to differentiate and grow through diversity and inclusion. Moreover, we need to be looking for ways to enable women to make their mark.

Let’s take a leadership responsibility to recognise the potential in others, create opportunities to develop and expand capability in their chosen area and allow them to have a voice. It also means fostering a diverse and broad network of connections and nurturing those relationships over the long term. It’s a behavioral mindset that anyone can adopt and can be created from the most unlikely places and people.

Making the most of existing opportunities

Looking at the industry more broadly, the MFAA and CAFBA have both developed programs to support women and inclusion.

FAST has also put in place a range of programs to encourage greater diversity. Our Women in Business event is a key example of this.

Since its inception, Women in Business has provided a platform for women in the industry and beyond to network, discuss common goals and challenges, hear from women in business leaders and have their own voices heard. The events have also evolved to encompass other facets of diversity, including culture, background, experience and thinking. We are looking forward to bringing the latest iteration of this series to market in July. Michelle Gallaher, CEO of global digital health track company OPYL and Nicole Devine, former FAST director and NAB executive and now COO in a technology solutions company. are confirmed as our guest speakers, two incredible women business leaders who have both had a profound impact on the way I approach business and leadership.

The responsibility of leaders

Awareness days are good reminders for us all to stop and take stock, diversity and inclusion should really be part of everyday thinking, business strategy and planning.

From a CEO perspective, I believe the greatest opportunity, and responsibility, is diversity enablement and I believe all business leaders should be thinking about ways to foster a more diverse workplace as well as contribute to more diversity within their respective operating industries.

Leaders shouldn’t feel compelled to have all the answers, rather a commitment and plan to build a business with a team that is diverse and inclusive should be a priority for all of us.

The results will be worth it.