Is DnI in your DNA?

Posted by James Wright

To be honest I have always felt like a bit of an oxymoron.

As a white, middle-class, university educated, gay man I sit in a bit of a strange spot when it comes to the whole privilege vs. persecuted spectrum.

Early in my career I was teased in the workplace for wearing pink shirts “are you going to wear rainbow hot pants next week?” said a colleague once; I was his younger Manager.

Then later, “come upstairs and meet 'Fred’, he’s gay too” said the CEO on my first day at the office.

I want to shout, scream and then sensibly challenge anyone that uses the word ‘gay’ to describe something they see as a waste of space (e.g ‘You have taken the time out of your day to read this, You are gay.’ From Urban Dictionary). I am ashamed that I don’t always call people out. In doing so I am letting my LGBTIQ+ family, the organization I represent and myself down.

At times I have felt passed over for promotion, excluded from invites to play work footy, sidelined at networking events and point blank ignored by prospects and clients in meetings. I have used valuable hours with business coaches and psychologists working on these experiences and my response to them.

On the other hand, I have direct experience of being paid more than female colleagues doing almost the same role. I have sat in meetings where the likelihood of someone becoming a parent factored into workload and promotion decisions (not, I hasten to add whilst working for GradConnection|SEEK).

My upbringing by two socially liberal but economically interventionist parents gave me a decent moral compass albeit from a context of knowing I would unlikely never struggle, at least financially. When I came out in my late teens, I remember my mum saying something like “why would you want to choose to be that? It’s going to be a hard life”.

I am certainly not an expert in diversity, inclusion, equal opportunities or cause politics. As philanthropic libertarian I am also often confused as to which side of the fence I am meant to sit on when it comes to legislation, positive discrimination, initiatives and quotas. Therefore, it is with a healthy curiosity and my interests declared that I am excited to start a conversation on diversity and inclusion at our next Industry Insights webinar.

“2020 has given us a chance to reflect and do better so when we look back on this moment, we don't have to spend it lamenting all the things that could have been different” wrote Jennifer Duke in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this month. The time for indifference or settling for a “life ain’t fair and that’s that” stance is well and truly over.

A Human Rights Commission report in 2018, Leading for Change, found that 75.9% of senior Australian leaders were Anglo-Celtic, and 19 per cent had European cultural backgrounds.

Non-Europeans made up only 4.7% of the C-Suite despite representing 21 per cent of the Australian population; 0.4% were Indigenous Australians yet accounting for 3 per cent of the population.

The situation varies as we move through industries and through seniority within organizations but you don’t have to have a degree in Data Science or Politics to know that things are far from perfect.

After four months in the graduate attraction industry I am acutely aware that many employers are focused achieving some measure of equity or equality. Conversation about getting more women into engineering, indigenous applicants into law or simply more applicants from a specific geographical area has come up many times already.

How do you authentically attract diversity?

As Graduate Recruitment professionals what can we do to understand the diversity and inclusion conversation better? How can we design application and assessment processes to ensure fairness for all? What does fairness for all mean?

Once we have a satisfactorily diverse intake how do we then ensure that our on-boarding, internal structures, cultures and career pathways deliver on the promise our brands and perfectly crafted statements and policies make?

Whilst I can’t promise that we will be able to answer everything or even anything in one session I am thrilled to announce that on Wednesday 22nd July at 12 pm (EDST) GradConnection will be joined by guests including Mundanara Bayles the Managing Director of Blackcard an organization that works on embedding cultural capability in corporations using Aboriginal wisdom & knowledge and Nicola Laver SEEK’s Client Training Manager who helps organizations with their attraction and recruitment strategy. We will start to hear at how the issues brought to the fore by #blacklivesmatter can and should impact the world of student and graduate recruitment.

We will be encouraging participation throughout the session; bring your stories, challenges and concerns. Fingers crossed for contributions from both our University partners and employers. The session will be recorded and shared to our audience via social channels and on our website – do let us know when you register if you would prefer anonymity.

A predefined outcome from this webinar will be a peer working group for GradConnection clients and friends who want to move the needle on the dial in their organization.

James Blog Picture


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