Notes from the AusIMM WIMnet Chair

  • By Kate Hobbs MAusIMM, Senior Consultant, First Principles Consulting

It seems that whenever I come to write my thoughts for the Bulletin, I am somewhere other than home.

Kate Hobbs.

This time I am bouncing around in the back of a car, travelling through the streets of Jakarta on my way to the airport. Over the last three days I have learned a lot about the impact of cultural differences on how organisations are managed and the challenges faced by companies operating in foreign countries. You can’t just pick up a company, drop it into a different culture and expect it to operate effectively. Both the organisation and the region they are in need to adapt to one another to realise the benefits of coming together.

Although management teams understand the need to adapt culturally in this sense, every day organisations hire individuals who are very different to the established team yet don’t take the action required to ensure they are able to integrate effectively. Companies may understand or have heard of the benefits of increasing their diversity; however, often their newly-hired diverse individuals are thrust into an organisational culture that is very different to their preferred way of working. Yet they are expected to fit in and be effective team members. I ask that you keep in mind how you feel when you land in a different country for the first time when you hire or begin working with someone who is different from your existing organisational ‘type’. This certainly helped me understand the difference between diversity and inclusion.

One of the ways that we know helps increase female participation in the workforce, as well as improve the well-being of all workers, is the availability and uptake of flexible work. Modern flexible work options are wide and varied and can result in benefits for both employees and employers. Last week, Diverse City Careers, a close friend of WIMnet, ran a campaign about flexible work. Their Flexible Working Week initiative is about encouraging all workers to talk with their employers about how their role might be able to be done flexibly. As part of this, DCC has created some fantastic tools for individuals and employers, including an online magazine filled with real-life examples of different flexible work successes. I urge you to take a look and then have a conversation with your manager or the people you manage. You may not want to work flexibly at the moment, but having the conversation about possibilities might open some doors that you never knew were there.

Speaking of initiatives, earlier this month I was invited to join a session with the AusIMM Board and new AusIMM CEO Stephen Durkin at their annual strategic planning day. I was there to participate in a review of how the Institute could ensure it continued to engage a diversifying industry, including how we could build our future value proposition to reflect what our changing membership wants. After the positive and action-orientated discussion that was had on the day, I am confident that the next few years are going to strengthen the Institute significantly.

And on a final note, WIMnet is proud to be supporting the AusIMM to hold their first Achieve & Inspire conference on May 18 next year in Sydney. The event is structured quite differently to most AusIMM conferences and will provide industry members of all ages, disciplines and genders with valuable professional development and networking opportunities outside of a purely technical environment. It will be a jam-packed day (with a lower price tag than traditional conferences) of personal stories and words of advice from senior industry executives plus the latest research and thinking on building your own and your organisation’s capability.

If you want to know more about Achieve & Inspire, or work for an organisation that is interested in becoming a foundation sponsor, contact Suzie Chan, Senior Coordinator – Events, via schan@ausimm.com.au or 03 9658 6126. It’s going to be a great event so make sure you don’t miss out!

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