At last month’s TEDxSydney, one of the largest in the world staged by the media organisation, a number of speakers engaged with topics currently on HR’s radar. We offer a round-up of some of their insights.
“Listening” vs listening
Anyone who’s had a friend or partner respond: “uh huh” knows there’s a difference between listening and listening. There’s an Aboriginal word, Dadirri, to describe ‘Deep Listening’ that doesn’t exist in English, said Judy Atkinson, professor of Indigenous Studies at Southern Cross University.
Often at work we listen without an intent to learn. It’s tricky to find the right balance between professional and empathetic. And when there’s a policy or procedure in place, it’s easy to revert to past practices that remove the participant from the situation. However when people don’t listen with the intent to learn, they fail to learn from past errors and end up repeating them.
What should HR reflect on? It can be easy to cut off a troubled worker and jump straight into a band-aid solution that follows normal procedure. Long-term solutions require HR managers to stop talking and actively listen to workplace problems.
(Read: “Uber’s evolving problems and why good HR is so important”: Lessons from the travails from the drive sharing company show why good HR needs to be central – not simply relegated to operations – and why ignoring a toxic culture results in problems that cannot be solved overnight).
The diversity dividend
Right now, diversity is “trendy” said lawyer and social advocate Mariam Veiszadeh in her speech at TEDxSydney. But that doesn’t change the fact that someone with a “foreign” sounding name needs to send 68 per cent more job applications [to succeed] than if they had an Anglo-Saxon name.
Increasingly, society is demanding gender and cultural diversity, but not all businesses are ensuring their diversity programs translate into more diverse workplaces.
(Read: “Why you need to consider name-blind recruiting”: Considering the evidence that those with foreign-sounding names are significantly disadvantaged during the hiring process, is name-blind recruiting the solution?)
We all work differently
Jordan Raskopoulos, a comedian, musician and digital content creator entertained the TEDx crowd but there was a serious message behind what she had to say. Raskopoulos, who came out as transgender in a viral video, advocates on behalf of the LGBTQIA+ community by using her public platform to promote awareness and understanding to a broad audience through humour.
Raskopoulos coined the word “shy loud” to describe people who thrive during a boardroom presentation but crumble talking to coworkers at the water cooler. Some people need specific working conditions to be productive, she says, and while it’s easy to say they should pull up their socks and get with the program, we’re forfeiting their potential and effectiveness to the business in the process.
By way of example, Raskopoulos draws on her own experiences of anxiety and how we make assumptions about mental illness. “When people think depressed, they think sad, when people think anxious, they think scared all. The. Time.” While that may be how some people experience their disorder, Raskopoulos is confident and comfortable on stage, where “I know the rules. But if you met me on the street I’d be terrified, and probably lost for words.” She says making assumptions about how people should work is a barrier to productivity and effective communication in the workplace.
(Read: “Quiet power”: We investigate the concept made popular in the New York Times bestselling book QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and look at the barriers that keep introverts from getting ahead at work).
Inclusion and Diversity Conference
Learn how you can transform your workplace at AHRI’s Inclusion and Diversity Conferences in Canberra (26 October) and Melbourne (2 November). Register online.