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Photographer Steve Wise, photography subject Emmanuel Mathias and MercyCare CEO Anthony Smith at Oration 2019.

How can we be a champion for diversity and inclusion?

This year I watched more than 600 people be enthralled by MercyCare guest Orator, tennis legend and disability advocate Dylan Alcott. Told with his characteristic unbridled passion, his lived experiences had many of us thinking, how can I be a champion for diversity and inclusion?

At MercyCare it is a question we hold close to our hearts. It was why we chose Diversity and Inclusion as the theme of our signature event, Oration 2019, and why we chose to debut our Diversity Art Collection there.

The Collection consists of 20 portraits of our employees, volunteers and service users. Captured by 2018 AIPP Australian Portrait Photographer of year, Steve Wise, the fine art portraiture is what diversity and inclusion looks like to us.

The portraits represent the boundless beauty of diversity that extends across ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, ability, sexuality and background. The richness of the lives of those photographed enriches us as an organisation.

The stories behind these ordinary, yet extraordinary, people have then been captured in our fine art book. Their stories demonstrate how they are effecting change for themselves and the people around them.

We believe it is vital for MercyCare to reflect the rich cultures, races and backgrounds of the people we work with.

With this in mind, this year we launched our Diversity Statement: “At MercyCare, every person matters. We commit to inspiring a culture that truly embraces and celebrates diversity and will continue to build relationships and deliver services that are inclusive of people from all walks of life.”

Our diversity statement speaks to the culture we have and want to continue to inspire.

Can we do more as an organisation? Of course. But through openly committing to diversity and inclusion we are determined to continue this journey.

Why commit? For us, it is about social responsibility and good business sense.

Diversity and inclusion has been proven to deliver stronger business outcomes. Studies show diverse populations produce more innovation and change; make better decisions, and bring a wider variety of skills, experience and perspectives.

You get better answers from a diverse group of people and receive the gift of empathy, courage and commitment.

Dylan’s words on our Oration evening made me reflect on my own desires for the future. Dreams for our families, our careers, how we participate in the community, and how we find purpose in contribution.

Many of these desires are universal yet are not universally accessible. It takes courage, effort and leadership to equalise this.

As part of the business community MercyCare see the incredible opportunity to change the dynamic and make a difference.

Steps can be taken to remove obstacles for those experiencing disadvantage by embracing diversity in the workplace, community, and within circles of influence.

Great strides have been taken within Perth’s business community to achieve this, but of course there is so much more to do.

While we continue to strive from within, MercyCare’s service offering naturally feeds into diversity and inclusion. For us it might be about finding employment for an asylum seeker; supporting a client with a disability to reach their goal of independent living; providing accommodation for a young mother fleeing domestic violence; or connecting an aged care resident with their community.

For another business it may be about looking to different talent pools. Looking to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who bring skills and qualifications, proven resilience, new ideas, multiple languages and fresh perspectives. Looking to someone with a disability; after all, thanks to Dylan Alcott, we know people with disabilities take fewer days off, stick around for longer and are proven to be good for business.

Collectively in the business community we have an incredible opportunity to make a difference. Which begs the question, how can each of us be a champion for diversity and inclusion?

Comments

beechboro
Embrace all cultures, treat everyone equally.

Busselton
To answer the question posed in the headline – we can all start being a champion for diversity and inclusion by knowledge. Educate ourselves on what inclusion actually is, open our minds to those in our community, how we as individuals, co-workers and business owners can be more inclusive. This is my mission and goal in life –a more inclusive and accessible community. Check out www.30footdrop.com.au

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