The Voice – Diane Smith-Gander

6 March 2018

Q. What will the audience learn from APPEA’s Diversity and Inclusion Panel?

I am thrilled to have an opportunity to present on this panel with other industry leaders on such a prominent topic.

First and foremost, the audience is going to hear a very well-informed debate around the need for more diversity and inclusion in the industry.

Audiences are going to get some good insights into the risk profile of activity in this arena and hear examples of what has and hasn’t worked and why, for the industry. The audiences are going to be entertained by some excellent thinkers within the industry.


Q. Why does a focus on diversity and inclusion make good business sense, especially in the oil and gas industry?

This industry is one where big bets are taken on a very regular basis, so organisations need to make use of all the talent available to them. If you are focused on just one segment of talent, such as men, then you’re going to be missing high-quality talent from your organisation.

Many studies show that it takes diversity and a range of opinions to lead well and make better decisions, including assessing the risk profile that’s facing the organisation and mitigating them particularly around decisions that involve big bets for the organisation.

But it’s more than this, it’s the changing community expectations. Millennials will make up much of the workplace by 2020. They expect organisations to think more broadly – it has to be about more than just profit and the bottom line.

Companies are now expected to understand their social purpose and actively communicate and engage with them. Millennials are only prepared to work for organisations that subscribe to values that are aligned with theirs, and they regard themselves as very accepting of diversity. They simply will not work for organisations that don’t share those values.


Q. What do you think organisations need to be most aware of when working with inclusion and diversity in the current marketplace?

Community expectations are changing, heightened by the change in demographics of the workforce. But of course, rules and regulations are changing as well.

Organisations need to have a plan in place to address the gender pay gap or low levels of female representation in leadership.

With organisation’s like The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) conducting research into the issue, the industry needs to be aware that they are expected to have this data at their fingertips, understand the data, and be able to talk about why it is like it is.

Another very important issue is workplace health and safety.

We see that organisations and the community now recognise the psychosocial element of safety at work. Addressing sexual harassment and bullying – which can go hand-in-hand, are very important factors in ensuring that you’ve got a healthy, safe workplace for all employees. Managing psychosocial issues is incredibly important, and given the public scrutiny of this area, people expect positive action.


Q. What do you predict the next twelve months to look like regarding diversity and inclusion?

The next twelve months will see a real desire for men to get involved in the conversation.

In some ways it’ll be positive – wanting to understand and see how policies and practices can change in the workplace to foster better diversity and inclusion. In others, it will be a self-interested question, “Well, what about me? Have I got lesser opportunities? What does it mean for my career? How do I navigate this workspace?” Or, we may see a straight push-back, suggesting that they’re being discriminated against and that affirmative action and positive discrimination for women needs to stop.

We’ve begun to lift the lid of Pandora’s Box – everything is starting to be out in the open and we’re going to have to handle the implications of that for everybody.

We have moved away from childcare as a women’s issue, to early childhood development as a family issue. It’s no longer maternity leave, it’s parental leave. It’s about the normalisation of these flexible workplaces so that men feel as comfortable to work in a flexible fashion, and men feel as comfortable to have great relationships based on time with their children.


Q. What’s the role and responsibility of events, such as APPEA Conference and Exhibition, in supporting diversity and inclusion? What would you like to see the industry doing more of?

By including diversity and inclusion as an important part of the APPEA Conference, the organisation starts to normalise it as a topic; it’s not something that sits on the sidelines, it becomes mainstream.

We’re now recognising that it is important to the industry; we do want to celebrate best practices, we do want to share lessons learned, we do want to debate this. These conferences are about bringing the industry together to debate the mainstream topics, to share best practices, to set aspirations for the industry.

Our industry events have an important role and responsibility to ensure a variety of representatives presenting on topics like inclusion and diversity. We don’t see only women having a conversation with and about themselves. We need to start conversations that men and women have together.


Diane Smith-Gander, will facilitate the Plenary Session: Diversity and inclusion – what is past the ‘tick box’? with fellow speakers, Catherine McGregor AM, LBGTIQ Advocate; Kellie Parker, of Rio Tinto and Tom Quinn, of Broadspectrum on Wednesday 16 May at 8.30am during the APPEA Conference and Exhibition.

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