While it is true that diversity in the workplace is about gender, race, social standing, and the like, it is also about the perspectives that people from different backgrounds bring to the table, one HR leader believes.
According to Christopher Brooks, Chief People Officer of Sydney-based HR services firm Angus Knight Group, instead of just focusing on what a person looks like or where he or she comes from when hiring, business leaders should think about personality.
“If organisations really want their workplaces to be diverse, they have to be recruiting for personality. That starts in the boardroom. An organisation is only as strong as the leaders at the top. The culture of the organisation is a direct reflection of the leadership team,” Christopher said.
Diversity in gender, race, and social standing still matter, he stressed. They become the catalyst for work culture. However, leaders must not forget about the diversity of thought needed, especially at the leadership level.
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Christopher cited how alleged misconduct in Australia’s banking industry led to the formation and enquiry of the Royal Commission from 2017 to 2019. He said bankers were so focused on becoming diverse based on physical attributes that they failed to look at the diversity of thought within the leadership.
“The reason that the banks got themselves into the mess that they are in is because they all think like bankers. Bankers breed bankers who only listen to bankers who promote bankers to be the leaders of the bank,” he said.
To achieve true diversity, Christopher said business leaders should first acknowledge that no two people are the same and that, despite all differences, people must be treated equally under the law as discrimination based on differences hurts societies and businesses.
Christopher has been working as Chief People Officer for the Angus Knight Group for over a year now, and he carries with him over two decades of experience in managing people of different backgrounds for a wide range of companies.
He spent most of his HR leadership roles focusing on leadership and learning for companies such as Plain Sailing and First Train, before focusing on People and Culture for the L’OCCITANE Group and as HR management consultant for Great Place to Work Australia.
Christopher believes his five “Gallup Strengths” as HR leader are maximising talent, connecting people, building trust, having a futuristic mindset, and being able to learn continuously as his career continues to progress.
“I always find that a lot of my learning comes from helping others learn – collaboration at its best,” he said.