Natasha Bishop, Business Support Officer
Ben Harnwell, Coordinator Economic Development and Tourism
Hannah Johnson, Economic Development Officer
Council coordinates two events aimed at encouraging diversity in the workplace. The two events have been held over the last 12 months to support diversity @ work.
Women Inspiring Business Lunch - supports women in business through inspirational storytelling, networking with like minded women and showcasing 'winning' business.
Inclusion @ Work breakfast is a celebration of having a diverse workforce from both employers and employees and support organisations from the Manningham community.
Women Inspiring Business Lunch: Driven by an obvious lack of business women in key business associations and organisation in Manningham. The Lunch was developed to highlight strong leaders and businesses in the City. Partnering with key business organisations and supported by local businesses the Lunch has grown from the ground up. The Lunch is about businesses supporting, rewarding and celebrating the women in their workforce and breaking down the barriers to gender equality. It is design to inspire women to BE their personal best.
Inclusion @ Work: Initially grew from the support sector who saw a need to link clients with employment. Council partnered with key organisations to create a breakfast to showcase winning stories from employers who have benefited from employing a diverse workforce. Initially targeting employees with physical impairment and mental health issues this initiative is developing to include all aspects of diversity across gender equity, ethnicity and sexuality.
Women Inspiring Business Lunch features an inspiring presentation from a woman who has achieved her personal best. The event has seen Olympic swimmer Nicole Livingstone and author Yvonne Bornstein, the 2015 event will feature Moira Kelly. Sponsors are sought from leading businesses who are lead or support women in senior positions. The relaxed lunch encourages conversations and networking among the attendees, further strengthening skills, knowledge and confidence.
Inclusion @ Work is about breaking down the barriers to employees hiring from a diverse background. Partnering with specialist organisations and using real world examples from employers and employees allows the attendees to see first hand the positive impact a diverse workforce can have on a business.
Women Inspiring Business Lunch has increased the membership of business women in Manningham's lead business networking group, Manningham Business Network. Encouraged and supported leading business women to take on hip profile roles with the greater Manningham business community. The event has become a highlight of the business community, with on going support from leading business. The third of these annual lunches will be held in October 2015.
Inclusion @ Work has lead to direct employment for residents with physical impairment and mental health issues. Many of these success stories have featured in main stream media and in promotional online videos hosted by Council and other partners. The second event, to be held in second half of 2015, is already gaining momentum with even more stories to tell.
While both projects were received positively both at and after the events, there was some initial resistance. This came in the form of commentary asking 'where is the men in business lunch?'.
This was dealt with in a positive manner, using statistics of attendees at other business events (predominately male) and that, while the lunch celebrated and supported women in business, it did not exclude men. In fact part of the success of the event was that men attended and support their colleagues, peers and partners.
The success of the diversity @ work program has been in the real world stories and examples. From showcasing leading inspirational women who did it! To hearing from a previously skeptical employer who 'took a chance' and got one of the best employees he had ever had.