Businesswoman says workplaces should address diversity for success
While organisations continue to strive for greater gender parity in workplaces, diversification by ethnicity, age and ability cannot be ignored, Leadership New Zealand chief executive Sina Wendt-Moore says.
The biases that prevent women from achieving levels rising into leadership are two fold for people of other diversities, especially at leadership roles, Wendt-Moore said.
"Being in a workplace that is designed based on a Western model that's hundreds of years old that says leadership looks a certain way and is male and white.
"Even now with discussion on gender diversity, it might be male and female, but it's predominantly white males and females that are talked about," Wendt-Moore said.
"The thinking is institutionalised, it's that idea that we're comfortable with people who look like us."
Wendt-Moore said diversity could provide a different lens for organisations to better communicate.
"If people acknowledge disparity exists, then they can have people around the table who can ask the right questions and can challenge ideas.
"Because diversity for diversity sake is just tokenism."
But Wendt-Moore said since the 1990s there has been a shift from hierarchical to more inclusive and supportive leadership.
Wendt-Moore said she was excluded from work discussions in the beginning of her career because she wasn't "at the right level" to contribute.
"Twenty-first century leaders are more humble, they're more open to supporting and empowering other people. Leadership is not only about bringing people with you but also creating more leaders.
"We need the voices of younger people to actually help us figure out what we need to do in the future," she said.
Wendt-Moore's advice for young career women who have moved from university into the workforce seamlessly was to be proactive in shaping the rest of their careers.
"Young women need to understand it's not going to be handed to them. My biggest resource has been other women.
"We have to be very proactive, that's the only way we're going to move together and change the colour and the gender of who's sitting at the senior leadership table," she said.
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