Mary Haddock Staniland

Diversity creates prosperity, profit, and positivity.

The country that has possibly witnessed some of the largest immigration numbers on the planet is the United States of America and this immigration explains why it has been the world’s most successful economy for the last 200 years because immigration breeds diversity.

Research from UCLA stated that 92% of companies with discrimination policies also believed that these same policies are credited with having a positive impact on annual revenue. And the reason for this is because these policies protect diversity.

Diversity is what drives success for companies, cultures, and countries.

One of the prominent voices of diversity is Mary Haddock-Staniland. Mary is a transgender female who is the head of membership services at Diversity Works NZ, a Director in a Boutique PR agency and a popular MC/Keynote speaker.

As an LGBTI advocate and breathing mega-phone for diversity in New Zealand Mary has helped many businesses and people grasp the ideology of transgender diversity as normal. Mary has endured difficulties from as soon as she could walk and still to this day has been on the receiving end of an ignorant public.

Mary shared with me how companies and individuals can embrace diversity to improve their work and their culture.

Embrace Skills Not Biases

Research commissioned by Australasian Bank, ANZ showed members of the LGBTI community are more likely to let go of their partner’s hand in public than anyone else.

In response, ANZ launched a social media campaign called “Hold Tight” which focused on LGBTI couples holding hands when in public. The hashtag #HoldTight reached more than six million people and was used more than 4,000 times on Twitter alone with LGBTI engagement increasing 10% in the last year.

As individuals and companies, we should be willing to work with those who are able to deliver results regardless of their gender or culture and focus on their inclusion, not exclusion. A workplace should be centred on delivering results and these results are valuable and transcend any form of prejudice.

Mary said, “For those who are LGBTI there is too much emphasis on making ourselves the victim but we need to get on with it and the right company will embrace these results as a priority.”

Companies and individuals need to focus on the skills of an individual and what they bring to the table. If the individual is different from what people consider as the norm consider this a benefit, not a deficit.

Employees are celebrated for their skills on a frequent basis and companies can do the same for their LGBTI community by focusing on inclusion in the workplace.

Diversity Happens From The Top Down

When Christopher Luxon was appointed CEO at Air New Zealand (a 9-figure public airline) in 2013, he sent a strong message to employees that by 2020, 40 percent of his senior leadership team would be women.

At that point and time, only 16% of the team were women.

Fast forward to today and that number has risen close to the 40% percent target and the results are in. Staff engagement rose from 67% in 2014 to 69% in 2016, manager effectiveness rose by 8% followed by growing customer satisfaction by 2.7% year on year.

The icing on the cake is that the company has also enjoyed record growth in revenue for the same time period.

As Mary shared this is a change that has happened from the top down and the benefits have not been limited to just staff but customers and profits. Leaders need to take an active hand in creating policies that ensure diversity is not a “nice to have” but a must-have.

Make Diversity Something That Is Known To Everyone

Hell’s Pizza a New Zealand based Pizza company made a fateful delivery to Active, an organization for youth with intellectual disabilities which led to the company starting a conversation with the group to see what support they could offer. The discussions resulted in the creation of a paid training experience programme for youth with intellectual disabilities and were made known company-wide as a focus on creating a more diverse workplace.

Approaches to diversity in a company-wide manner give both the staff and the public the message that change is something that you are committed to as a business shared Mary. These types of actions promote different ways of thinking internally that teach employees to look outside of the box and embrace new concepts.

Innovation is a key force for creating revenue and growth internally and embracing diversity allows both companies and individuals to bring forth new ideas.

A homogeneous workforce is repressed.

A diverse and inclusive workforce is liberated.

Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also the right thing for your bottom line.


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