How does a large-scale organisation like Optus tackle Diversity and Inclusion?

Veronica Lakin

Organisation Development Manager – Diversity and Inclusion

How does a large-scale organisation like Optus tackle a complicated topic like Diversity and Inclusion? Veronica Lakin shares Optus’ top D&I initiatives for 2020 and how employees can help organisations make D&I a success.

How have Optus evolved their D&I initiatives in the last few years? 

Optus believes in the inherent strength of a vibrant, diverse and inclusive workforce where the backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences of all our people help us to forge strong connections with our customers, innovate and make better decisions for our business.

By celebrating our diversity as a strength, we enrich our workplace, our business and lives of our customers and as a result positively impact society to help people feel they belong. Diversity and Inclusion is a core Optus business strategy.

During the past 3 years we have increased our efforts by evolving our Inclusion Strategy to guide our day to day people practices as well as guide critical business decisions as we transform to achieve greater business and customer value. Key changes and commitments we have made include:

  • Signing up as a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador
  • Pledging our support to Inclusive Australia as an Alliance member to make exclusion and discrimination a thing of the past
  • Engaging CareerTrackers to sponsor and offer paid internships to Indigenous University students
  • Completing the Access and Inclusion Index in partnership with Australian Network on Disability (AND) to create a roadmap of actions to become a disability confident employer
  • Introducing Gender Affirmation and Transitioning guidelines for our people
  • Continuing to celebrate cultural days of significance and acknowledge key diversity days as part of our Inclusion Calendar

What are your top D&I initiatives for 2020?

  • Accelerating our gender diversity progress through our business-led Diversity Council
  • Launching our refreshed Accessibility & Inclusion Action Plan
  • Dialling up our efforts to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Continuing to drive inclusivity and increase our employee diversity so we mirror our customers and the community

What can individuals do to help organisations make D&I a success?

Everyone plays a role in creating a workplace where all people feel they can bring their authentic self to work and be the best they can be. People feel included when they are connected, respected, progressing and contributing. People can help others feel included by developing an inclusive mindset and keeping their biases in check.

  • Slowing down your thinking, decisions and processes. Check for assump​tions. Question your first impressions
  • Empathise with feelings and viewpoints of others. Practice perspective thinking. Use inclusive language.
  • Learn about different diversity groups. Challenge accepted practices and incorporate different perspectives into how business is done. Seek feedback. Get involved in inclusion forums, celebrate cultural days of significance, acknowledge key international days e.g. International Women’s Day, IDAHOBIT, International Day of People with Disability etc. 
  • Find inclusive role models and start to role model inclusive behaviours. ‘Be an ambassador for inclusion’. Surround yourself with people with different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds​ and send visible signals to show its strategic importance.