ADVICE: Why Businesses need to be as transparent as possible about diversity – It’s not about being perfect

After a decade in the technology sector, Gemma Lloyd recognised some key themes about when she was most and least empowered to perform and be recognised for her talents. One of the standout keys to success was having visible female leaders and a workplace environment that consciously acted on diversity and inclusion issues.

This is what led Gemma to develop and build WORK180, a platform that connects recruiters and job seekers, with the mission “to empower every woman to choose a workplace where they can thrive”. From her own experiences and based on research, Gemma started to gather and assess the various attributes that provide an empowering workplace for women.

WORK180 now has 35 different criteria, including flexible working, parental leave and pay equality, where employers transparently list their policies and initiatives on each issue, so potential employees have as much information at hand as possible to make an educated decision on where to apply for work.

The dialogue on transparency is changing

Today, WORK180 partners with some of the largest and most respected enterprises and businesses across Australia, the UK, and the US. But it wasn’t always easy.

Gemma explains, “In the early days, companies asked, ‘What do you mean you want us to be transparent?’ After they had started using the platform, it was easy to show the benefits of transparency. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about sharing what you do and don’t offer. Employees just want to know what they’re getting into.”

Companies that partner with WORK180 experience a range of different benefits. BHP, for example, which has been working with WORK180 for five years has experienced a 21% more engaged workforce and a significant decrease in safety incidents since starting their diversity and inclusion journey.

Gemma says, “I haven’t seen any negative impacts from being transparent. Even if their policies aren’t great. Companies that talk about their improvements, like BHP, speak volumes. That journey is really important. BHP is an inspirational company to look at.”

Diversity can’t sit solely with HR

Gemma has seen a stark difference in success and impact among different organisations trying to get the most from their diversity and inclusion initiatives. Many businesses are committed to closing the gender pay gap, which is bigger for women of colour and women with disabilities, and many businesses also seek to benefit from the innovation and creativity that comes from diverse teams.

Gemma believes the businesses that do this successfully have the entire leadership team involved, with everyone understanding why these initiatives are in place, not just what they are.

She says, “It needs to be driven from the top and driven by all the business leaders. If you want success, it cannot be an HR initiative.”

WORK180 provides an online HR health check for businesses to help them get a full understanding of where they stack up and where they can improve. Gemma encourages business leaders to assess four key areas – policies and benefits, inclusive culture, storytelling and job ads.

She encourages businesses to interview women working at and with the organisation to understand why they are there and how their experience could be improved.

Even during these tumultuous times, Gemma encourages any women currently looking for work to explore the WORK180 platform as many of their clients are still hiring, including Woolworths, Atlassian, BHP, Microsoft and NAB.

About the expert

Gemma Lloyd is an award-winning entrepreneur, whose focus is on empowering women and improving workplace equality.

A passionate advocate for gender equality, Gemma is a keynote speaker, takes part in expert panel discussions and provides commentary for media outlets such as ABC Radio, Channel 7 and Sky Business News.

In 2017, Gemma was a finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2017 in two categories (For Purpose and Young Business Woman) and in 2016 won WIT Entrepreneur of the Year.

Also in 2017, WORK180 won the Victorian Innovation Minister’s Diversity Award, Tech Diversity Award Winner in Media, in 2016, won the #Techdiversity Award in the Leaders in Advertising category and was a finalist in the 2015 ARN Women in ICT Awards in the Innovation category.

In 2015, Gemma and Valeria Ignatieva established WORK180, an international jobs platform that pre-screens employers on policies around paid parental leave, pay equity, flexible working and more than 30 other criteria.

Those that meet the required benchmarks are able to join the WORK180 network and advertise their jobs to an extensive audience of talented women. Workplace policies and initiatives are also made public so that candidates are able to see where an employer stands before they apply.

In 2018, Gemma and Valeria launched WORK180 in the UK and a US network is currently being developed.