On the 31st October, we had an open and lively group discussion at the offices of Telstra International, where The Chapman Consulting Group held one of a series of HR Leaders’ networking sessions. Lynne Barry, the International HR Head and Group Finance HR Head for Telstra, hosted the group of over 30 regional HR leaders.
In attendance were representatives from a fantastic variety of organisations, including HR Leaders from American Express, ANZ, Asurion, Avery Dennison, Baker & McKenzie, Crown Worldwide, Cushman & Wakefield, Eastspring Investments, Hasbro, Infiniti, Macquarie, Manulife, Marks & Spencer, Marriott, Nomura, Scotia Bank, Turner Broadcasting, and UBS. The topic resulted in a compelling exploration of ‘Diversity and Inclusion in APAC today’, with a broad range of perspectives offered by the group.
Charles Bendotti, Vice President of HR for Philip Morris in Asia, shared his organisation’s experiences of Diversity and Inclusion, and his insight led to a number of questions from the group, which resulted in an interesting and varied discussion. “We started our Diversity and Inclusion journey by first reflecting and articulating our business case for D&I,” said Charles Bendotti, who then outlined the three core business imperatives that were needed to succeed. “Firstly, as a company we provide great customer satisfaction, which requires a diverse workforce that reflects our global customers. Secondly, we aim to access and retain the best and brightest talent by being inclusive and by celebrating differences. And thirdly, we focus on global expansion with employees who understand various cultures and can give us a competitive advantage.”
Charles talked about mobilizing the Philip Morris organisation by appealing to the head, as well as the heart. He commented that everyone has a story to tell, whether it be from one’s upbringing, the desire to make a difference for the next generation, or by encouraging acceptance in a truly international organisation. Bendotti passionately believes that investment into D&I, including employing the right D&I specialist with Asia Pacific experience, has enabled Philip Morris International to engage and retain employees within a competitive labour market. This is why the organisation spends significant time and energy in creating a positive and fully inclusive working environment, which engages people personally, as well as professionally. “We aim to make all employees feel valued, regardless of gender, age, nationality, sexual orientation, physical ability, thinking style and background – I am proud of what we are achieving at Philip Morris International – it is a great place to work.”
Lynne shared the Telstra perspective, “For us the D&I agenda in the international business is a hot topic. I was just sat in a meeting with the executive leadership team, and there’s no doubt that we are thinking carefully about how to bring our talent to growth opportunities outside of Australia, as well as growing local talent who have the deepest insights in our many markets. We know we will be stronger with greater diversity. We also see the importance of being a very inclusive company.” Barry continued, “You can become a diverse organisation, but if you don’t harness that diversity and become stronger for it, then you are missing out on the real value of that diversity.’’
Matthew Chapman, CEO of The Chapman Consulting Group, shared more about the company’s successful approach to D&I, with particular regard for those with physical disabilities. ‘‘Having a virtual business with employees all over the world, we found a group of people who were highly numerate, energetic, driven and tech-savvy. It so happened that this group included a number of physically disabled individuals, and it has become a diverse group and a fantastic environment for different thinking styles and inputs. I am in no doubt that we are more successful as a business, due to our diverse employees and inclusive approach to hiring.’’
It was a valuable gathering of HR Leaders, and many thanks go to our host, Lynne Barry, at Telstra. Lynne added, “We are delighted to host this group, and personally it’s a good chance to meet other regional leaders, so I can reach out and ask questions as we move ahead with a lot of changes and growth in our business!” We look forward to the next Hong Kong networking sessions in early 2015.
Ben Davies is a Managing Director with the Chapman Consulting Group and splits his time between Hong Kong, Singapore and Europe, leading Senior HR searches.
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