Date posted: 4/12/2017 5 min read

Leading with the heart

How can leaders foster a culture of lifelong learning that creates and supports a diverse workforce?

In brief

  • Leaders need to invest in people and set an example in ethical behaviour and knowledge sharing.
  • How to empower employees through positive leadership.
  • Insights on how employers can access an untapped talent pool.

Think outside the box to create a diverse workforce

High-potential professionals can be found throughout the population, but many recruitment practices inadvertently eliminate swathes of talent from consideration. Chartered Accountants ANZ paper The Future of Work states that “what might at first look like a skills shortage may on closer inspection reveal too narrow a search.”

Employers should question their assumptions about roles and skills required, in order to source more diverse candidates, says futurist, Chris Riddell.

“The more diversity you have, the richer your business will be from a cultural perspective. Ultimately that is what you will deliver for your customer. If you have a living, moving internal network and vibrant community within your business, that is what your customer will feel, see and experience.”

Successful leadership invests in people

Baptiste Raymond, Climate Change Initiatives Manager at Lafarge commented in TheGuardian that sustainable leadership is values-based and involves “courage, creativity and faith in people.” Raymond believes that one of the qualities leaders will need to achieve success is vision, rooted in community service and ethical behaviour.

Values-based leadership is something one of Australia’s most prominent leaders, Graham“Skroo” Turner demonstrates. Turner is responsible for creating The Flight Centre, Australia’s leading domestic and international travel sales business.

Known for his down to earth attitude, Turner is testimony to achieving financial success for Flight Centre by empowering employees, rewarding initiative and fostering a tribe spirit in the company.

Veronica Beilby, National Finance Learning and Development Leader, at Flight Centre Travel Group, credits Turner as an outstanding example of how continuous learning can be embedded in an organisation.

“If a business wants to foster a culture of lifelong learning you have to back it up. Invest the time, money and resources to invest in your people and their learning.”
Veronica Beilby National Finance Learning and Development Leader, Flight Centre Travel Group
 Turner’s philosophy, Beilby says, is “leaders are readers”. He creates an energy and commitment to learning throughout the organisation.

“He always has a pile of books on his desk so you can see what he’s learning, he shares what he’s learned and how he’s going to apply it."

“If a business wants to foster a culture of lifelong learning you have to back it up. Invest the time, money and resources to invest in your people and their learning.”

Access an untapped talent pool

Minnie Baragwanath, CEO of social change agency, Be. Accessible agrees that learning is a great opportunity for employers and employees to invest in one another. Baragwanath said that support for both employer and employee is critical to ensure successful employment experiences and outcomes.

Twenty five per cent of the world’s population require access for ageing, vision or hearing impaired, mental health, learning, cognitive functioning, mobility and speech. With 60% of these access citizens unemployed, that’s a huge talent pool of opportunity. 

“So much of the world is designed for the average human but who is designing for a truly inclusive world?” asks Baragwanath.

Employers need to shift their mindset from thinking of access needs from one of burden and cost to investment and opportunity, as 75% of people with disabilities need no additional support to work.

“I don’t like boxes or limitations,” said Baragwanath. “We are challenging the prevailing belief that people with access needs can’t contribute by creating conditions that will enable the 25% of people in New Zealand with accessibility needs to flourish.”

Baragwanath commented that the learning needs of a diverse workforce require a balance of online and face-to-face learning options. However, she believes face-to-face is key to encouraging relationship building, opportunities for mentoring, and the employee develops the sense of being part of something bigger than themselves. 

Future of Talent

Download our report on rethinking the workforce of the future.

Download here