The Big HR Question: do diversity targets help or hinder?


Conversations about the use of diversity targets are often hotly debated, but Graeme Innes AM and Sam Turner CPHR believe they’re worthy discussions to have.

While few people would argue about the value of hiring and promoting underrepresented talent, such as those living with disability, women and Indigenous people, many believe that diversity targets aren’t the right approach.

Some argue that allocating roles based on diverse qualities rather than merit could risk the hire/promotion being viewed as tokenistic. However, others suggest there’s no other viable option, and that by dismissing the use of quotas or targets, we won’t see adequate progress made.

Graeme Innes AM, lawyer, board director and former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, and Sam Turner CPHR, D&I expert and Sales Excellence Lead at Microsoft take a deep dive into diversity targets and offer some great tips for HR professionals and leaders in the illuminating conversation below.

“The four most powerful words that any person from a disadvantaged group can hear are, ‘You start on Monday.'” – Graeme Innes AM

Don’t have time to watch the whole video? Here are some key timestamps:

1:16 – Only 53 per cent of people living with disability are employed, says Innes, compared to 83 per cent of those without a disability – that’s a 30 per cent gap. Over time, he has come to the conclusion that targets “are the only thing that work”. 

“That gap has remained the same for the last three decades, despite everything we’ve tried to do,” says Innes.

3:06 – Turner says that a lot of underrepresented people might think, “I want to get there under my own steam”.

“But that assumes that we start on a level playing field and we really don’t,” says Turner.

5:00 – Innes and Turner respond to the argument that all decisions should be based on merit.

9:30 – Innes talks about putting aside our assumptions about other people’s abilities.

9:55 – Innes and Turner talk about how to hold leaders accountable for the success of diversity targets.

10:39 – Turner says it’s important to think about the achievability of your targets and offers advice about how to do this.

11:58 – Innes suggests empowering leaders by getting them involved in setting targets, “so they own the thing they want to achieve”.

12:29 – Innes shares three things organisations can do to help make diversity targets work.

13:31 – Utilise the power of storytelling, says Turner.

“Data doesn’t change people’s hearts. It might change some people’s minds… but it doesn’t change the way they feel about things, whereas stories do.”

15:10 – Leaders need to engage in self-development around D&I matters, says Turner. She often asks leaders about the books and podcasts they’re consuming to upskill, or if they’re mentoring people who don’t look like them.

16:20 – Innes and Turner offer advice for destigmatising targets in the workplace.

18:20 – Innes and Turner offer general advice for organisations looking to improve their D&I efforts. 

AHRI members will have access to the extended version of this conversation via the AHRI LinkedIn Lounge from 10am today. Join for exclusive content and helpful conversations with your peers.


Join your HR peers at AHRI’s D&I Conference on 27 April, in Sydney or online, to discuss important diversity issues.


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Lindsay
Lindsay
2 months ago

Nice bite size format and messaging thanks. In the main agree with above. The problem with modern quotas despite the intent, is that it confuses equality with equity. Enforcing for example a 50/50 quota (in virtually any circumstance) will most likely cause more harm than good primarily by displacing the majority that gravitated there for the right and well intended reasons, not politically inspired or “popular for a day” reasons.

More on HRM

The Big HR Question: do diversity targets help or hinder?


Conversations about the use of diversity targets are often hotly debated, but Graeme Innes AM and Sam Turner CPHR believe they’re worthy discussions to have.

While few people would argue about the value of hiring and promoting underrepresented talent, such as those living with disability, women and Indigenous people, many believe that diversity targets aren’t the right approach.

Some argue that allocating roles based on diverse qualities rather than merit could risk the hire/promotion being viewed as tokenistic. However, others suggest there’s no other viable option, and that by dismissing the use of quotas or targets, we won’t see adequate progress made.

Graeme Innes AM, lawyer, board director and former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, and Sam Turner CPHR, D&I expert and Sales Excellence Lead at Microsoft take a deep dive into diversity targets and offer some great tips for HR professionals and leaders in the illuminating conversation below.

“The four most powerful words that any person from a disadvantaged group can hear are, ‘You start on Monday.'” – Graeme Innes AM

Don’t have time to watch the whole video? Here are some key timestamps:

1:16 – Only 53 per cent of people living with disability are employed, says Innes, compared to 83 per cent of those without a disability – that’s a 30 per cent gap. Over time, he has come to the conclusion that targets “are the only thing that work”. 

“That gap has remained the same for the last three decades, despite everything we’ve tried to do,” says Innes.

3:06 – Turner says that a lot of underrepresented people might think, “I want to get there under my own steam”.

“But that assumes that we start on a level playing field and we really don’t,” says Turner.

5:00 – Innes and Turner respond to the argument that all decisions should be based on merit.

9:30 – Innes talks about putting aside our assumptions about other people’s abilities.

9:55 – Innes and Turner talk about how to hold leaders accountable for the success of diversity targets.

10:39 – Turner says it’s important to think about the achievability of your targets and offers advice about how to do this.

11:58 – Innes suggests empowering leaders by getting them involved in setting targets, “so they own the thing they want to achieve”.

12:29 – Innes shares three things organisations can do to help make diversity targets work.

13:31 – Utilise the power of storytelling, says Turner.

“Data doesn’t change people’s hearts. It might change some people’s minds… but it doesn’t change the way they feel about things, whereas stories do.”

15:10 – Leaders need to engage in self-development around D&I matters, says Turner. She often asks leaders about the books and podcasts they’re consuming to upskill, or if they’re mentoring people who don’t look like them.

16:20 – Innes and Turner offer advice for destigmatising targets in the workplace.

18:20 – Innes and Turner offer general advice for organisations looking to improve their D&I efforts. 

AHRI members will have access to the extended version of this conversation via the AHRI LinkedIn Lounge from 10am today. Join for exclusive content and helpful conversations with your peers.


Join your HR peers at AHRI’s D&I Conference on 27 April, in Sydney or online, to discuss important diversity issues.


guest
1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lindsay
Lindsay
2 months ago

Nice bite size format and messaging thanks. In the main agree with above. The problem with modern quotas despite the intent, is that it confuses equality with equity. Enforcing for example a 50/50 quota (in virtually any circumstance) will most likely cause more harm than good primarily by displacing the majority that gravitated there for the right and well intended reasons, not politically inspired or “popular for a day” reasons.

More on HRM