Pamela Hutchinson, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at Bloomberg, is the latest guest to be featured on Julia Gillard’s podcast series, A Podcast of One’s Own. The two discuss how far the D&I agenda has come, whilst acknowledging the slow rate of change when it comes to gender equality in the workplace.
Cited as one of the most recognised thought leaders and vocal advocates for diversity across the private sector, Hutchinson talks about how growing up in an ethnically and culturally diverse household led her to question the lack of diversity when she first entered the world of work.
After a degree and short career in law, an unexpected opportunity meant she ended up leading her company’s D&I agenda. However, it was a challenging context in which to effect change, as she explains:
“When I started off doing D&I, there must’ve been about five or six people doing diversity and inclusion in the entire country, and I knew all of them. It was definitely not a topic that was discussed...it was very difficult.”
Since then, Hutchinson has built up over 25 years’ experience in managing diversity across engineering, financial services, technology and media companies. But has she seen big changes in this area?
“When I look back and think about where I came from and where I am now, it’s like night and day….however, whilst activity has increased significantly, progress has still been slow.”
And on gender equality specifically, Pamela tells Julia how the rate of change has not kept up with expectations around women’s progression to leadership roles in the workplace:
“The narrative at the time was, ‘All we need is more women coming up through the pipeline…and within 10 to 15 years the workplace would look different’. 25 years later, the workplace does not look very different.”
Gillard and Hutchinson then discuss what interventions actually work to make change happen. In Pamela’s view, sharing the business benefits of diversity has done much to make the case:
“There’s been so much research done over the last 10 or more years around the benefits of gender diversity for organisations…and increasingly clients are asking more questions around what organisations are doing on gender diversity.”
However, she makes the point that we shouldn’t underestimate the value of just doing the “right thing”. In her view, it’s usually those organisations who fundamentally believe in the cause which make the most progress.
Hutchinson also stressed the importance of recognising the intersectionality of women:
“The progress we’ve seen on gender tends to support white women more than any other group of diverse women…[At Bloomberg] we recognise that women are not uniform; they come in different shapes and sizes and ethnicities….We’ve been looking at how can we better engage across all women as opposed to certain groups of women.”
You can find this episode of A Podcast of One’s Own with Julia Gillard on all the main podcast hosting platforms. Subsequent episodes will be released regularly and will feature women leaders from the worlds of business, media, entertainment, activism and other fields.
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