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‘I can’t believe how relevant this is to what I’m doing at work!’

By Jodie Gunders

I’d had my brand new textbook open for about five minutes before I texted a friend – an academic who works in the field of workplace diversity – excitedly, “I can’t believe how relevant this is to what I’m doing at work!”

Thanks to the Women in Media Queensland’s Career Boost Scholarship, I’m now one subject down in my Graduate Certificate of Business, with three to go. Combining study with full-time work and two busy high school kids was challenging, but I found having a genuine passion for the subject lightened the load.

I work across two roles at the ABC. I’m Rural Lead, Queensland for ABC Regional and I run the ABC’s regional and local traineeship program, through which I mentor a cohort of seven trainees around the country. My rural team is working hard to lift the participation of women in the media, while a big part of my trainee role is to promote and support diversity and inclusion at the ABC.

Through my study this semester, I’ve learned that people are attracted to organisations that have members with similar values to their own. Likewise, organisations tend to choose members that are like their existing members. See where this is going?

Promoting inclusion and diversity, I’ve learned, takes a real conscious effort.

Leadership in this area is all about recognising and celebrating diverse members and promoting their sense of belonging and participation.

It’s not just a matter of having policies and guidelines in place; an organisation needs to have a deep sense of the importance of inclusion and promote it from the top.

I’ve learned the four key steps to becoming an inclusive organisation are:

  1. Starting with a frank assessment of the existing diversity climate. Is the board full of blokes? Are CALD staff members represented in leadership positions?

  2. Next, come up with a strategic plan for action. Where are the gaps? What needs to be done? What does the organisation need to do differently to create a more inclusive workplace?

  3. Got a shiny new plan? Great. Now, put it into action! The strategic plan is the easy part, now it needs to be implemented with buy-in from staff and leadership.

  4. Finally, get feedback. Did the strategic plan hit the mark? Has the diversity climate changed? If not, look at why it hasn’t and what might need to be done differently.

I’ve got more to say about diversity and inclusion, but I’ll save it for my next report.

In the meantime, if you’re thinking of returning to study and wondering if it’s all too hard, you might be surprised at how do-able it is.

For me, the trick was having my textbook on my Kindle and reading it while waiting in the car to pick up kids from running training/ballet/school. I took Facebook off my phone and used the incidental time to study instead of scroll.

The assessment for my course consisted of two major assignments. The first was a juggle and I found myself writing into the nights in a hotel room after attending a work conference all day and in the airport while waiting for a plane. For the second, I planned ahead, took a couple of days off work, and parked myself in the uni library.

It can be done!

Jodie Gunders is the 2022 recipient of the Women in Media Queensland Career Boost Scholarship.


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