By Doug Cronin, Pledge 1% Member and Director of Change and Upstander, Our Race

Recently someone asked me why are you a Pledge 1% member, you are already giving back so much more than that.

My response was that for any significant change to happen, a movement if you will, it takes many voices standing together, not competing of who is doing more but what as a collective are we doing.

Later, I reflected on this answer and looked at what is it that my organisation can do in supporting a social impact movement like Pledge 1%. As a start-up and an organisation which aims to create more inclusive and welcoming workplaces and communities by connecting people through storytelling, mentoring and leadership, I realised we could definitely play a role with organisations who stand up against racism and see multiculturalism as one of our greatest strengths.

You may ask what are the similarities between these two movements?

This, for me is where it gets very interesting as both have an authentic purpose but also a positive impact on profitability and attracting and retaining talent.

We have all read the Benefits of Pledging on the Pledge 1% website and will look at how a few of these are related to Leading for Change: A Blueprint on Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership. To do this I will refer to research conducted by the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity, chaired by Dr. Tim Soutphommasane, the Race Discrimination Commissioner of The Australian Human Rights Commission.

Attracting customers and increasing productivity

“87% of consumers believe corporations should place equal weight on business and supporting communities”, yet do we need the data to prove this point or can we look around at our own spending habits and that of our friends and family?

At the same time, we often buy products and/or services that are aligned to our values, whether that be environmental, social or cultural. From there consumers ask the question does the company know how to provide goods and services to my preferences.

As a result, businesses find that having greater diversity they are able to reach a broader audience.

We all know there is a push for gender diversity and that this makes good business sense. A study of 366 companies from the United Kingdom, Canada, Latin America and the United States, found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns above the median, while companies with in the top quartile of cultural diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above the national industry median.

So just from a profitability perspective a culturally diverse leadership group just makes basic business sense. And with Australia increasingly becoming more culturally diverse (half the population were either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas) working towards culturally diverse and inclusive leadership is a no-brainer.

Attracting and retaining top talent

“60%+ of Millennials state that a “sense of purpose” is a key reason why they work for their current employers, while companies with giving programs have 2.3 times the employee retention rate.”

The idea of a sense of purpose goes hand in hand with a sense of belonging because if there is no sense of belonging, how can one of a sense of purpose?

Businesses which have culturally diverse leadership, employees from diverse backgrounds feel a greater sense of belonging where their uniqueness and input is also valued. This then benefits both the business and employees.

As Ajay Banga, the CEO of MasterCard says ‘If you don’t have a diverse company, if you don’t have people around you who don’t think like you, don’t walk like you, don’t talk like you, didn’t have the same experiences as you, how will you ever make sure that you are not blinded to the same mistakes that you can otherwise make because you can only see things through one prism.’

Everyone can make a difference. Be part of something bigger than yourself

Finally, if we were only pledging 1% to increase profitability and attract more customers then what is the purpose?

And is an organisation employing one or two people from a different background just a tokenistic gesture?

After attending a breakfast with Atlassian founder Scott Farquhar, I could see the passion and the leadership he is showing in this movement. It is obvious that he is taking action on this but is also agitating the market to help grow the size of the movement, and therefore impact.

This same type of leadership from him is also being shown by many members of this group, which ultimately will lead to greater change.

A movement is also occurring in the area of culturally diverse and inclusive leadership starting with members of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity. As a result of this and other forward-thinking leaders, we are seeing organisations agitating in this space. This has been through their recruitment strategies, policies and training, but most importantly by starting the conversation and committing to the movement.

Both of these movements are very much in their infancy but some progress is being made. It now takes the agitators and leaders to show this staunch commitment.

Are you going to be a leader of this movement also?

If you are leader in this space and want to start the conversation, we would like to invite you to the launch of Our Race in Sydney on Thursday 4th December or organise another time to be part of this movement.