Diversity, inclusion and belonging – these were the topics discussed in an interactive NAWO Quick Bite event at Southern Cotton in May.
GM of Southern Cotton (SC), and host for this event, Kate O’Callaghan talked about the company’s efforts to build an inclusive workplace culture. The result of which has led to a stable, positive and engaged workforce; and at ginning season each year, casual labour from across Australia and overseas keep coming back to SC to help out – a testament to the inclusive culture created by Kate and her team. Kate also discussed the need to vary her communication strategies to reach different suppliers with different needs and make them feel included in the SC journey.
The energetic panel consisted of Ayla Young, Warehouse Supervisor at Southern Cotton, who talked about the diversity within her group and how she manages that diversity through building good relationships with her crew, which in turn helps her understand their view points. Ayla also spoke on how she has overcome the challenges of being a young female in male dominated environment.
Amanda Culpan, Facility Manager at Leeton Base Hospital drew from her vast experience with diverse teams in her current and previous roles. Amanda shared that collectively developing shared values has been a strategy she has found has worked well to align and bring a diverse group together. Additionally Amanda spoke of times when she has been a minority as a white women and how this has helped her empathise with minority groups and value the importance of inclusion.
Annaliese Gaison, HR Manager at Warburn Estate talked passionately about the need to be inclusive in recruiting employees for your business as well as the on boarding process. She referred to Steve Brown’s book “HR on purpose”, about the impact of taking the time to get to know your employees and making them feel included; leading to an increase in commitment and output. The panel was expertly led by Nicole Martin who not only added to the learning for the group but interacted with and engaged the audience in the discussion.
The event included elements of the Leading Inclusively Toolkit recently launched by NAWO. The animation was a useful source of information and the panel members referred to and built on the concept of bias within their discussions.
In May SC were raising money for the McGrath Foundation, and attendees were treated to pink cupcakes and saw some of the pink wrapped cotton bales on site. Participants also appreciated the opportunity to tour the impressive facility at Southern Cotton.