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Leadership – The language of a leader is ‘truth’

Leadership

Culture is created through our leaders, their language and, the language of the tribes they live within.   The pathway to create and sustain preferred culture in the tribes where we work, live & love, is to support our leaders. Challenging them to greatness and encouraging them to understand that truth exists only in words. Leaders are the words they use. Just as culture is the words said within it and about it.

We look to our leaders for wisdom and guidance toward a vision. To be a leader is to be a learner. Constantly inquiring and learning new ways creates a vision of what is possible. Constantly finding new ways to inspire and move people. Taking us on a journey.

It was Socrates w220px-Socratesho is claimed to have said at his trial “… the unexamined life is not a life worth living …” In considering those words and the man, perhaps Socrates was commenting on the issue of being human as characterised by the capacity to transcend basic instinct and desire, to make decisions through conscious, ethical choices. If he was, then an examination of life may lead to a life which is intentional and informed and, is a life worth living.

We need great leaders. Leaders who can read the patterns of life, of work, and the tribes they live and work in. Leaders who make decisions with the wisdom from what they have learned.

I recently spent 3 days examining my own leadership. It was a valuable time and I was able to explore my own language of leadership, my purpose and my passion. To clarify what I would make a stand for.   It occurred to me that we are all interconnected and reliant. We are one but we are many. You are me and I am you. What happens to you happens to me and what happens to me happens to you.

Learning this, I am now unable to simply be an observer of things in my tribes that affect businesses and people. A failure to act on behalf of others is the standard I adopt.  As a leader I now identify that my role is to make a difference by moving and inspiring leaders to create amazing cultures and, to move and inspire organisations from good to great.

In the past, Risk to Business focussed on reducing risk to business and people from unlawful or unethical behaviours. As a leader in my new context of understanding I realise that Risk to Business was not playing a big enough game.   But now we are.

We are about changing how organisations are lead by inspiring and challenging leaders to take a risk. To take a risk in creating great cultures where people are engaged, included, valued and feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

We’ve built a company that listens, learns and shares. We know that organisations spend a fortune in time, energy and money in building their brands and growing it. Leaders often feel unsupported and vulnerable when going through times of change or increased competitive threat.  We also know what it takes to be a great leader in contemporary organisations. And, we know the power of a great culture in driving growth and productivity.

 

 

 

 

 

Sexual Harassment – What do you suggest a preventative system would look like?

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Sexual harassment continues to be a problem as highlighted by ‘Insight’ on Channel SBS. The stories shared by Jemma and the other panelists were shocking. Our system is failing our community and it is failing our women.

The conversation from the audience was interesting but unfortunately no solution was identified. Interestingly, incidents occurred where alcohol and work related parties/activities were occurring. This experience is true from many of our own investigations.  Casual attitudes equal casual behaviours.

Doing more of the same seems pointless, and something needs to be done to disrupt this status quo. Increased legislation, increased damages and regulation are not providing the results we need. People (leaders in organisations) are failing their people. HR is more often than not powerless to solve incidents. The political framework and the cost benefit analysis of losing a ‘gun’ employee who is a perpetrator is a barrier to change.  Too often people make a decision to ‘settle’ and make the problem go away rather than deal in a mature fashion with the perpetrator.  Lives and families can be changed forever.

Most concerning from the interviews on Insight was the attitude of not complaining because its ‘too hard’, ‘too damaging’, ‘too expensive’. Under reporting of incidents is a problem and we do not truly know the extent of the problem.

Why is it that we still endure this problem in 2014?  Laws were created in the mid 1980’s to deter this behaviour however it still continues. The cost to people, organisations and our productivity cannot be understated. A different, more holistic approach is needed and perhaps have elements such as these:

  • The most serious of sexual harassment incidents that involve sexual assault ought to be criminalised as was serious workplace bullying in Victoria;
  • An effective weapon against sexual harassment is prevention;
    • create an environment and system where people can speak up without fear;
    • use independent 3rd parties to allow for disclosures and representation of employees (HR is not trusted);
    • act quickly to intervene without blame, make it hard for alleged behaviour to continue unnoticed – rather like a thief who moves away from a secure target;
    • DO NOT do nothing when an employee discloses – treat a disclosure like you would a machine missing a guard or a trip hazard;
    • risk profile workplaces and teams – establish systems where lead indicators of behavioural risk can be identified and acted upon;
  • Establish mandatory reporting on organisational performance in regard to incidents, and preventative governance measures (policy suite, training, systems and procedures);
  • Only employee temporary contractors that can certify that they have their own robust training and compliance regime in place just as we do with OH&S accreditation or certifications;

I am sure other measures can be designed to assist. Organisations are not doing enough, regulation and legislation must step up.

We conducted our own research of Australian workers and found sadly, that 37% of people reporting sexual harassment felt that no-one cared and were told to ‘toughen up’ by their manager. This was the case for Jemma on the ‘Insight’ program.

Alarmingly, 24% of cases reported that organisations (people & leaders) either did nothing or made matters worse and 11% of people experiencing sexual harassment felt sad, alone, and had contemplated suicide.

Here is one story of the hundreds we received through our research:
“This takes place nearly every day. It ranges from men trying to put their hands down my top to trying to kiss me and ‘feel me up’. They make inappropriate advances to me and when I take it to my manager he just laughs. Generally there are people around when this happens but it gets worse when no-one is around. On employee came around to my house in the middle of the night, banging on my door and texting me. My manager is someone I thought I could go to but, nothing changes. I have to leave my job.”

And another:
“Whilst one of my female colleagues was bending over, a male colleague came up behind her and simulated sex”

Research Statistics
14% of people complained to their manager;
16% took legal action;
10% resigned;
23% took long term sick leave (more than 30 days);
12% reported bad behaviour toward them was copied by others;
30% of people did not report it;
(people under 34 years of age are most at risk)

Industry Sector Statistics – The Top 5
Hospitality = 22% of sexual harassment reports;
Business & Finance = 16%;
Retail = 15%;
Transport = 14%;
Emergency Services = 12%;

State & Territory Statistics
Tasmania – 18%;
Queensland – 14%;
Western Australia – 13%;
New South Wales – 12%;
South Australia – 12%;
Victoria – 11%;
Northern Territory – 11%
Australian Capital Territory 7%

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What Can Men Do To Achieve Pay Equity?

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I was prompted to write this Blog after speaking with a close friend over the weekend. We were talking about our children and the current pay gap that exists between men and women in work and how this might affect them as they create families of their own.

We talked about the fairness of pay inequity in particular and what our children could expect to experience on this key community issue as they move into work. I do regard the inequity as a community issue. I found myself thinking that the solution does not simply reside with business.  It resides with the whole community.  Where we live, where we work and where we play.

Stronger government policy around greater access to child-care and flexible work arrangements for men and women is needed among other key outcomes.

As 54-year old man with some experience in life, work and diversity & inclusion, I think it is important that men take up this challenge and simply ask the question of their employer – Is there pay equity for our women here? If there is then celebrate that fact, if it is not in place then ask who can make the decision to create equity what date will it be achieved by?

I thought about my time as the person who had carriage of the Diversity strategy for Victoria Police. I thought about the choices policewomen had back then. The choice was hard for them. They either had children and left or did not and stayed. We lost the bulk of our women after 9 years of service. What a cost that was.  Men in control made decisions and changed the landscape. Improved outcomes became available.

However barriers to the participation of women in management roles prevail.

I have observed that things can change when strong men take a leadership position and make decisions.  If we are to achieve greater equity for women and our daughters we need those people in positions of power and control to create change.

Men can be ‘men in action’ rather than ‘observers’ and men can be a voice for change. All we need to do as men is see the value of the change.  Let me tell you a story about being ‘in action’.

I live in a home in NSW whose previous owner has an amazing story around affecting change.   Maybanke Anderson (nee Selfe) was born in London in February 1845.  Her family migrated to Australia as free settlers when she was nine years old. Maybanke was raised in a family with firm views about the role of women in community and the importance of contribution and a fair society.

maybankesssr_lgAt 21 years of age in the September of 1867 she married Edmund Wolstenholme, a timber merchant. Their union brought seven children between 1868 and 1879 but unfortunately four of them died before the age of five, apparently from a heart condition. The later years of their marriage were not happy ones and Edmund after a number of business failures apparently took to ‘the drink’. The marriage broke down.

Maybanke responded to her situation and took in boarders to relieve financial problems. In 1885 Maybanke opened the Maybanke College for Young Ladies. She opened this school in her home and it gained a reputation for modern teaching methods that achieved excellent results. The school prepared young women for the University of Sydney entrance examination. It operated for over 10 years.

Maybanke took a stand for improved education for girls and has been accredited with bringing Montessori education to Australia and with opening the first free Kindergarten in 1895 in Woolloomooloo, NSW. Maybanke was the president of the Kindergarten Union supporting the education of the children of working mothers.

The law at the time of the 1800s meant that Maybanke was unable to divorce Wolstenholme. A situation she fought to change. Maybanke waited for the passage of the Divorce Amendment and Extension Act in 1892 and then applied for a divorce on the grounds of “three years of desertion.” Their divorce was finalised in 1893.

It occurred to Maybanke that ‘the system’ seemed to give men all the rights and women none. She became a public speaker and advocate about equality for women. Double standards that existed appalled her and she felt compelled to action.

Maybanke commenced an active role in the promotion of women and children’s rights. She became active in the women’s suffrage movement and: she was active in raising the age of marriage consent for girls; she believed that the vote was ‘the kernel for all reform’. Change was resisted by men and authority as these historic photos depict. Change was hard:

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Maybanke was also the vice president of the Women’s Literary Society. Many of the society’s members would go on to form the Womanhood Suffrage League of New South Wales (WSL) on 6 May 1891.

Maybanke was a prolific writer in the newspapers and published many articles along with books. Her writing commented on issues of: equity for women; children’s rights; raising children; education; women’s rights to vote and education.

In 1893 she was elected to the WSL presidency and founded the Australasian Home Reading Union in the same year. The Union was a program to promote induction by organising small study groups in rural areas.

In 1894, she began publishing the fortnightly newspaper Woman’s Voice. The paper ran for 18 months, drawing women’s attention to suffrage issues at the national and international level.

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The WSL’s attempts to have suffrage implemented by the New South Wales government were not fruitful; however, in 1897, Maybanke decided to petition the 1897 Federal Convention in Adelaide. She reasoned that this would have the women’s vote written into the Federal agenda. Thus, the women from South and Western Australia who already had the vote could not have it taken from them, and if there was suffrage at the federal level, it would flow down to the states.

“In the politics of a democracy there should be no sex. A woman without a vote is an inferior, and thereby liable to be so regarded”.
Maybanke Anderson – The Sun, 6 July 1912.

At this time, Maybanke also became involved in the pro-federation movement. Maybanke resigned from the WSL in 1897. Suffrage was extended to the women of New South Wales in 1902.

In 1899 Maybanke married her second husband, Sir Francis Anderson. Anderson was the first Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. They travelled and worked together on voluntary projects, including campaigning to have women stand for local government. She was active with the National Council of Women of New South Wales, and worked closely with the University Women’s Society. Maybanke died in St Germain-en-Laye, Paris on the 15 April 1927. The work for women and equality went on.

I think you might agree that Maybanke Anderson was a person in action. She took a stand for change and pursued it.

Disparity in pay still impacts on Australians women. The Australian workforce is observably split fairly evenly along gender lines. Of the approximately 10 million employees in Australia, 50.5 per cent are women and 49.5 per cent are men. However, men still tend to earn a lot more than women – an average of $1,429.80 for male employees, compared with $940.20 for female employees. Imagine the improved financial resources women could bring to relationships and family if this was not the case.

Currently one in 10 full-time workers in Australia earns more than an average of $2,548 per week, and one in 10 earns $800 per week or less. The rest are somewhere in between. The struggle for pay equity for women has not been a short lived as this picture below demonstrates.

Ms equal pay67Photo: Miss Equal Pay in the 1967 May Day procession on Queen Street, Brisbane. (Fryer Library, The University of Queensland: Grahame Garner)

In the years between 1961 and 2011 the proportion of women in the workforce almost doubled from 35 per cent to 59 per cent. However until 1966 married women in Australia were not employed by the Australian Public Service, and single women were forced to “retire” when they married. I remember this was so in the Victoria Police where I enjoyed my first career. Thank goodness things have changed in this regard. But I remember the impact on women.

In a report published by Ernst Young in 2013 (Untapped Opportunity – July 2013):

Once women hit their mid-20s, female participation rates in the Australian labor market decline for the next two decades. Women move from full-time to part-time employment to accommodate the needs of their families, their careers are interrupted.”

 The EY report concludes that if we are to improve participation rates of women and pay equity for women we need as a community to do the following:

  •  Introduce or extend flexible work practices
  • Offer Career Opportunities to Flexible Workers
  • Maintain the Career Paths of Workers on Maternity Leave
  • Seek out Highly Qualified and Educated Women who Failed to Enter the Workforce
  • Change Our Expectations of Leadership Qualifications
  • Increasing the Number of Women Choosing Qualifications that Feed into more Technical, Higher Paid Jobs
  • Make Childcare More Accessible

This may give us the start point we need toward a holistic approach.  In my view we need men to drive the debate and to drive change. We need men to be as passionate and as persistent as Maybanke Anderson.  We need men to ‘drive’ reform at the government and community levels thereby achieving lasting change.

My friend and I agreed that the people capable of effecting change can see that the value of what must be given up is far outweighed by the value of that which will be gained.

And, we need more men to ‘lean in’ and have the will. Inequity affects all of us now and those who will follow.
This is what a feminist looks like.[/caption]

This is what a feminist looks like.

 

 

 

Will your children be safe @ work?

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I recently celebrated my 54th birthday and I reflected on what an amazing journey my life has been and remains. I have a wonderful partner, amazing children (shown above), great family and friends. I also thought about what my contribution has been to community and to my work. I feel very fortunate to have been in positions where I could make a positive difference which I am very grateful for.

I am passionate about people having a great day at work and being safe while they are there. I remember the young people such as Shane Albino and Brodie Panlock badly affected by the workplace behaviour of others. Their experience of behaviour at work drives me to do what I do.

I have intentionally shifted the conversation about behaviour risk in workplaces so that we talk about workplace behaviour risk in the same way as we discuss trip hazards and machines missing a safety guard. There is no difference. These hazards potentially lead to serious injury.

I think about the four young adults in my immediate family. I wonder as they are starting out in work and in life, whether their workplaces will be safe for them. I hope so…. but ‘hope is not a strategy’. So please take a moment to watch an edited version of my presentation made to the Comcare 2014 National Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

I urge you to play a bigger game and not be satisfied if your organisation is focused on compliance instead of best practice. I also ask that you share my passion and this blog with your community. Powerful movements start with small beginnings.

 

 

How can your leadership change the world of one person?

I love this short story about ‘The Star Thrower’ because I believe that people should have a great day at work, every day. I believe that we all have a leadership role to play.

  •  The Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner reported that 28 per cent of women had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, compared to seven per cent of men. The best way to reduce these figures is to not be tolerant of sexual harassment.
  • Over the past five years there has been a 56% increase in the number of inquiries made to the Australian Human Rights Commission in regard to incidents of discrimination. Values based leadership and programs reduce discrimination.

Adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

I believe that we can all make a contribution – person by person, workplace by workplace. I believe that people do their best work when they feel safe, engaged and part of something bigger than themselves. I believe that no person should be bullied, discriminated against or sexually harassed at work. I believe we can all make a difference, through our leadership and values. Contribution is important.

How can your leadership change the the world of one person?

 

Workplaces ‘Fit for People’ & 21st Century Management & Leadership

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A parliamentary inquiry in New South Wales (Australia) into the alleged toxic culture of the NSW Work Cover health & safety regulator was damming. The report by PWC found among other things, a failure of management and leadership:

the leadership team has historically not demonstrated leadership capability and action concerning bullying and harassment”.

The PWC report referred to a worrying observation:

  • 40% of people at the regulator indicated that they had been bullied and/or harassed in the workplace and 52% of those reported the source of the behaviour was a manager or supervisor.

PWC was of the view that a ‘long-term commitment’ and ‘concerted focus’ on organisational culture was required along with a ‘spirit of cooperation’ between agency management, employees and their unions.  I agree with them and collaboration is vital. Values based leadership is a must for 21st Century workplaces to be ‘fit for people’. People can do their best work when they feel safe, engaged and valued.

When I read the PWC report I was saddened, and I asked myself what do organisations need from leaders in the 21st Century to prevent damage to people and reputation. How do we create organisations that are future focused and fit for people to work in ?

I remembered listening to a Gary Hamel presentation where he talked about creating workplaces that are ‘fit for humans. It is worth re-visiting what Gary Hamel had to say.

Gary Hamel - 'Web' AnalogyImagine, what would it be like to work in a place that embraced these 21st Century leadership values?

Amazing!

Protect or Perpetrate

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Bully or bystander. Is it the same thing?

In Lt General Morrison address at the June 2014 global summit to end sexual violence in conflict – made a bold and powerful statement – polarising debate – engaging people behind his call for an end to sexual violence and greater equality for women in military roles in times of conflict.

Every day at Risk to Business we work in businesses who find themselves ‘surprised’ by the behaviour of some of their employees. I am very glad that Morrison has spoken out – and it is relevant for all work places.

He showed insights and strong leadership to make his statement , particularly in face of recent allegations about inappropriate behaviour in the Australian Defence Force. Morrison has said “enough.Here is the report.

Morrison states that  “They (soldiers) either protect or perpetrate”.  In other words there is no middle ground. If you see bullying and do nothing about it then you too are a perpetrator. Ignoring someone in pain – turning a blind eye – not helping is condoning the behaviour of the perpetrator and makes the witness one too/

His comment is very relevant to my earlier blog about ‘Bullies & Bystanders

Morrison also said: “There are no bystanders — the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” And I wholeheartedly agree with him.

Do you agree? – Let me know your thoughts

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