Reclaiming happiness
15 April 2019
Reclaiming happiness Greta Andrews-Taylor

An inspiring turnaround with Happiness Co Founder, Julian Pace AFAIM

Reclaiming happiness

by Greta Andrews-Taylor 15 April 2019

Prior to losing his father to suicide on his 21st birthday 10 years ago, Happiness Co Founder Julian Pace AFAIM was by his own description ‘happy-go-lucky’.

When this tragedy was compounded by the loss of his best friend also to suicide within a short period, Mr Pace’s outlook on life understandably took a turn for the worse.

“The emotional grief, pain and suffering that I went through in that time, it really changes you, it changes the way you see people, the world and yourself,” he told Leader.

“I went through a lot of suffering in my personal life in that time and I probably destroyed lots of my own happiness because of it.”

Little did Mr Pace know then that he would eventually make a decision to reframe his loss and find happiness again and this would lead to him helping others do the same.

“I asked myself what would be the point of losing your father, your best friend and your cousin if you weren’t going to do anything good with it,” he said.

“I took that pain and made it my power, made my sadness my strength. My lighthouse was if I was happy once then I could find a way to be happy again.

“That was my reference point. I said, ‘I’m just going to make this day better and try to find happiness in it’, and then I started speaking.”

With no formal training or experience as a public speaker, Mr Pace took the plunge simply because it felt right.

Within four years he had addressed 30,000 people in 10 countries and soon after launched Happiness Co, which won Australia’s Small Business Champion Award in the Professional Services category last year.

Mr Pace speaks to thousands every year and devotes his time to helping others find happiness using a mixture of story-telling and practical tools.

One thing soon began to bother him.

“I wondered, what happens with that person now? Who looks after them when we go?” he said. “That lady who was crying three rows back, clearly going through some emotional pain – who looks after her when we go?”

It was with this in mind that Mr Pace built a number of support programs into Happiness Co to give continuing help to people once his team leaves.
  

Change the meaning, change your life

Happiness Co was officially launched on Mr Pace’s birthday and the anniversary of his father’s passing. Its office is on Victoria Park’s cafe strip, where Mr Pace once sought to take his own life.

“My dad took his own life on my birthday, and for five years I hated that day with a passion,” he said. “Now I celebrate hard with my friends and family and put a gala on for 400 people to say 'you know what, change the meaning, change your life'.”

Mr Pace said everyone’s experiences and methods of meeting their emotional needs are different.

“Happiness is very individual-focused,” he said. “For the top 100 companies in the world for culture, the number one thing that’s always at the top of the list when it comes to what makes their cultures so great, is happiness. That means they have given time and attention to their people.”

Mr Pace conceded, however, that companies could not bend over backwards for everyone all the time.

“It’s not about every single person having access to all the things they desire in the workplace all the time,” he said.

“The key is time and attention and listening to your people. It doesn’t mean their ideas are always right, but it’s about listening to your people so they feel heard.

“This leads to an environment where employees feel comfortable and understood, resulting in the success of the company because happiness breeds success, not the other way around.”

Engaging over 100 companies and their employees in its happiness sessions to date, Happiness Co has gathered some troubling data for employers.

According to the company, 66 per cent of respondents said they did the barest minimum at work due to emotional detachment from their employers and only 16 per cent said they were happy at work.

“Employees gain a sense of pride and positive feelings about their workplace when their employer makes them feel good about the environment,” Mr Pace said.

“Ownership inspires engagement, engagement inspires productivity. You can only increase engagement if you’re actually connecting with your people.

“I think a lot of leaders and business owners look at the intangible measurables around success and not happiness. When people are happier they take more action, get more engaged and are more productive, so if you can develop your people’s happiness, they will give you a return on your investment.”

Mr Pace said it wasn’t just up to organisations to implement change in the workplace, however.

“I always say to people it’s not your fault you’re underpaid, it’s not your fault you’re working long hours, it’s not your fault you’re maybe not always valued, but it’s sure your responsibility to take that emotion and make a life for yourself and it’s sure your responsibility to take that and build a successful career,” he said.

Greta Andrews-Taylor

Greta Andrews-Taylor is a Journalist at The West Australia and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Is your office cut out for work?
08 April 2019
Is your office cut out for work? Rhys Prka

Office environments can play a part in regulating the health, wellbeing and productivity of employees.

Is your office cut out for work?

by Rhys Prka 08 April 2019

Office environments can play a part in regulating the health, wellbeing and productivity of employees.

Bond University Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour Dr Libby Sander said she knew of a case in Australia where an employee was happy to take $20,000 less to work in an office with a better environment.

Recognising the importance of surroundings on staff, some employers provide perks like hammocks, table tennis tables and video games rooms to give their staff avenues to de-stress, take a breather and engage better with their jobs.

Take Google’s Sydney office for example. The workspace accommodates approximately 1200 workers and is filled with interesting office furniture and zones.

There you can swing on a tyre, head to your next meeting on a scooter, chill out on a hammock, play some instruments in the music room or video games in the ‘tech stop’.

Other perks aimed at lowering stress levels include a meditation room, sleeping pods and massage spaces.

But does a game of ping pong really lead to increased productivity or are these just gimmicks?

“It’s important to know that a great office doesn’t overcome poor leadership or poor culture,” Dr Sander said.

“Google’s office is not going to work for everyone.”

This sentiment was echoed by The Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology Australia (SIOPA) President Justine McGillivray. 

“No one size fits all,” she said. “What I would recommend is organisations consider the nature of the work they do, what is the demographic profile of their workforce and what the needs of the employees are. 

"If work is stressful it might be a good idea to have break rooms where workers can go during lunch time.”

“Table tennis for example may work if you have a stressful job that may benefit from some kind of time out.

“It is important any recreation facility is resourced properly and leadership actively and visibly participate so they are shown to be supportive of these initiatives but they need to be convenient and well-timed otherwise people probably won’t use the facility.”

Bland offices with poor volume control were often the number one complaint of employees.

We need to look at the nature of the job itself, management, leadership and the culture of the organisation.

Access to natural light, greenery, sound control, natural materials, visual privacy and generally designing the office around the work done there were all important factors in office design, according to Dr Sander.

However, she said other factors came into play when discussing employee performance and wellness.

“When we look at employee engagement and productivity it’s a lot more complicated than office design,” she said. “We need to look at the nature of the job itself, management, leadership and the culture of the organisation.”

Not everyone hankers for a fancy work pod (Google) or a spaceship-styled campus (Apple). Some workers prefer traditional perks like flexibility, access to promotion and increased financial opportunities.

“It does really depend on the individual and the type of work they’re doing and obviously their stage in life,” Dr Sander said.

Employee mental health and stress in the workplace need to be taken seriously by employers.

According to Indicators of a Thriving Workplace 2018, a survey by Australian mental health organisation SuperFriend, one in five employees suffers from a mental health condition.

“The majority of the things we can see when talking  about mental health in the workplace concerns work-related stress and difficult interactions with colleagues or managers,” Ms McGillivray said.

“Stress and burnout are particularly significant factors as well as other issues like anxiety and depression,” Dr Sander said.

A structured health and wellbeing program provides a good return on investment and can improve employees' wellbeing.

“We see productivity increase because people are happier, people feel more satisfied, they want to stay, they become more loyal and continue to work there,” Ms McGillivray said.

“We see injury rates and sickness rates decrease because people start to feel cared for. That’s really the outcome of a successful health and wellbeing program that has been well thought out and developed in consultation with employees to achieve a specific purpose.”

Rhys Prka

Rhys Prka is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Short and Sweet
27 March 2019
Short and Sweet Chris Thurmott

A workplace productivity expert says the best meeting is a succinct meeting, in which the time spent attending it is wielded with laser-like focus.

Short and Sweet

by Chris Thurmott 27 March 2019
A workplace productivity expert says the best meeting is a succinct meeting, in which the time spent attending it is wielded with laser-like focus.

Meetings, be they face-to-face, via a conference call or an online webinar, serve a valuable role in transferring information to multiple people in one go and have the potential to reduce confusion, save time and improve workplace productivity and efficiency.

That is if they are used correctly, something that eludes many Australian organisations, according to workplace productivity expert and author Donna McGeorge.

Ms McGeorge has spent years researching, analysing and implementing new workplace productivity measures to help corporate Australia make the best use of its time.

“A worrying trend I noticed was meetings the most wasteful use of their time in the workday,” she said. “I find that just abhorrent to think they spend most of their day in something they consider wasteful.”

On the back of her findings, Ms McGeorge released her book The 25 Minute Meeting, which details the psychology around effective meetings and strongly encourages the reader to consider implementing a 25-minute meeting structure.

Ms McGeorge said once you removed the superfluous aspects of a meeting, such as waiting for latecomers, allowing people to leave early, general chit-chat and people being unprepared, most meetings only involved 25 minutes of productivity.

“With this in mind, it made me wonder what would happen if we said we’ll just do 25-minute meetings,” she said.

“There are a number of really cool psychological elements that kick in when you set such strict and, what people perceive to be short, timeframes.

“As per Parkinson’s Law, whatever time you give people, that is the time they will use. If you give people an hour they will lazily use an hour, but if you only give them 10 minutes, it’s amazing what they can get done in that time.”

"A worrying trend I noticed was meetings were considered by most people to be the most wasteful use of their time in the workday."

While the practice might seem daunting, Ms McGeorge said 25-minute meetings could be incredibly effective.

“I haven’t had a meeting for probably the last seven years that hasn’t been 25 minutes or pretty close to that and it has definitely helped me,” she said.

Ms McGeorge said the trick to implementing these shorter, more time-restrictive meetings was to create a set of rules everybody had to abide by.

A good example of this routine is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has implemented three simple rules for his meetings.

The first is the two-pizza rule – meetings should only be attended by the number of people who can be fed by two pizzas. A cap on the number of people limits the confusion that may arise from having too many voices in the mix. Being more selective of participants also means employees who do not need to be there are not.

Ms McGeorge refers to this rule in her book, referencing the Ringelmann effect whereby diminishing returns happen when too many people are involved.

“With more people you get things like social loafing, non-participation or people hiding,” she said. “Ringelmann said individuals become increasingly less productive as the size of the group increases.”

Mr Bezos’ second rule is to remove PowerPoint and replace it with greatly detailed, narratively structured six-page memos.

Mr Bezos said the memos were more than just bullet points and were written, rewritten and continually edited in preparation for the meetings.

The third rule results naturally from these detailed memos and is that meetings start with silence in order to allow the participants to read, ingest and analyse the meeting’s aims and proposed outcomes.

Although having 20 minutes of silence at the start of the meeting is incongruent with Ms McGeorge’s idea of quick 25-minute meetings, she said the dedicated reading time allowed for a good and productive discussion to take place once the actual meeting began.

“There are plenty of things we can do around what rules we want to set,” she said.

“Whether we’re only going to meet for 25 minutes or we only allow seven people in the meeting or we do pre-reading for 20 minutes beforehand, whatever rules you want to put in place have to be agreeable and enforceable by everyone involved.

“I am typically not a fan of punitive measures, but I am a fan of accountability. I know managers who say once the meeting starts the door is locked and any decisions that are made are final, and others who implement yellow and red cards, but it’s about setting agreements.

“It’s just starting small and allowing the ripple effect to happen, setting whatever you want your ground rules to be, agreeing on them up front and agreeing on the consequences of a breach of protocol.”

Ms McGeorge's new book, The First 2 Hours, contends the most productive way of meeting the day's challenges is to divide it into two hour blocks to match the level of intensity required.
Chris Thurmott

Chris Thurmott is a Senior Journalist for The West Australian and he writes for a variety of different publications including Leader and National Mining Chronicle.

Tap into your inner Guerrilla
18 March 2019
Tap into your inner Guerrilla Chris Thurmott

A survival expert who has faced threats to life and limb in the great outdoors and lived to tell the tale is teaching corporate Australia how to adapt and thrive in the workplace jungle.

Tap into your inner Guerrilla

by Chris Thurmott 18 March 2019

A survival expert who has faced threats to life and limb in the great outdoors and lived to tell the tale is teaching corporate Australia how to adapt and thrive in the workplace jungle. 

Mike House AFAIM, a facilitator, keynote speaker and author with 20 years of experience observing people under duress, said a key to managing change and disruption in today’s world was to understand the fight or flight instinct when faced with real or perceived threats. 

Picture the scene: You’re on the edge of a cliff and a bear walks up behind you. You have two options: try to get past the bear (fight) or take your chances over the edge of the cliff (flight) – neither choice is advisable.

How the brain responds to threats will determine if it is going to work for you or against you.

“We don’t actually have to be under threat for the fight or flight instinct to kick in, it’s just the perception of threat,” Mr House said. 

His book, Thrive and Adapt No Matter What, offers tools and principles to help people under stress to function  normally.

Teaching the skills and techniques he learned while living a double life as a survival instructor and a change management professional, it is a handy guide to navigating a sometimes complex world.

One of its core concepts has to do with adaptable mindsets and how to remain flexible while dealing with a range of circumstances.

A way of achieving this is to use a technique Mr House calls Guerrilla Mindfulness (GM). 

“The whole point of the GM tool is, as its name implies, that it is to be used when you’re feeling outgunned or out manoeuvred and you need a fast, effective tactic to get you back on top,” Mr House said.

“All sorts of things can lead to someone feeling threatened. It can be just being tired, being overwhelmed, having one extra task added to your list or a rapidly evolving set of circumstances you’ve got to deal with.

“You’re obviously not about to run screaming from the building when you feel stressed, but the feeling is enough to make you slightly less intelligent – measurably so because it actually shuts your frontal cortex.

“There are moments of pressure in any given day. A person’s state of mind can easily be disrupted and it’s not like you can call a time out and ask for 20 minutes to re-find your zen.”

According to Mr House’s book, this is where GM comes in. The technique is designed to be used at any transition point in a day, whether that be shifting from one task to another, changing roles, moving into a different environment or a full-on change of circumstances.

When used correctly Mr House said it could quickly shift perspective and stress, helping a person to see more clearly and allowing them to work and do things effectively. 

“All of the above can be achieved in less than a minute, all thanks to its three simple steps – taking three deep, rhythmic breaths, saying how you feel and stating your intention,” he said.

Mr House said deep breathing countered the fight or flight instinct because it was impossible to be in a reactive state while breathing that way.

Once calm, the next step is to say how you are feeling in three words or less in as loud a voice as is practically possible. Mr House said naming emotions out loud caused stress hormones to plummet thus allowing a person to step into a more effective state.

The final step is to state your intention – tell yourself how you want to ‘be’ in the situation you are in or about to enter. Mr House said being intentional set a person up for effective action. 

“Steps one and two get a person present and calm and the third step allows a person to choose the best course of action with the most effective energy,” he said.

“I think the reason the tool is effective is you get to deploy it pretty much any time, anywhere.”

What will you do this Year?

Each year Mr House sets himself an annual challenge, something he feels he is a  novice at, and will attempt to complete it within a year. It is another of the core  principles in his book. He said finding something slightly scary to achieve each year was great for a person or team to do.

One particular year, Mr House’s birthday present to himself was to spend 12 days completely alone on a survival expedition. He said it was an extremely valuable experience and one he attempts to build into the work retreats he organises for businesses.
“It’s really rare that you spend that amount of time on your own and the most profound part of the experience was really just how still my mind ended up becoming by the end of that time,” he said. 

“Being able to find a balance where you’re far enough away in time and place from the urgent and important things you’ve got to deal with every day is quite a delightful state. 

“You get to think and reflect deeply, which is something we often don’t have time for in the current hectic world we live in.” 



Chris Thurmott

Chris Thurmott is a Senior Journalist for The West Australian and he writes for a variety of different publications including Leader and National Mining Chronicle.

Schools in test of relevance
12 March 2019
Schools in test of relevance Dr Alec O'Connell FACE FAIM FNAAUC

Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret. that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets.

Schools in test of relevance

by Dr Alec O'Connell FACE FAIM FNAAUC 12 March 2019

‘Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets. An individual with a schooled mind conceives of the world as a pyramid of classified packages accessible only to those who carry the proper tags.’ – Illich 1971

In Ivan Illich’s seminal, and for many, somewhat controversial 1971 book, “Deschooling Society”, he challenges the
structure and purpose of schools asking us to consider why we struggle to reimagine our schools. He argues that “the public is indoctrinated to believe that skills are valuable and reliable only if they are the result of formal schooling”. Some 47 years later, after copious volumes of educational reviews, curriculum changes and silver bullet fads to solve numeracy and literacy, the underlying organisational structures of schools have in fact changed very little. 

Schools are still left having to jump through the same Year 12 hoop restrictions in pursuit of an ATAR or something similar to get the 30 per cent of those students who choose university to their end point. What about the other 70 per cent and the relevance of their schooling experience? For many young people, schools may well be a centre of disengagement, rather than a place of meaningful learning experiences. Ted Dintersmith in his book ‘What School Could Be’, argues that “today the purpose of US education is to rank human potential, not develop it”.

The business sector and other noneducational trained commentators purport to know the skills and attributes that students require, and hence, what schools should deliver. Ironically, some of the people who provide their assertoric words of advice are the ones who when their alma mater or the schools their own children attend, try to change, are the very first to queue up at the principal’s office to complain about any innovation. Why? Because they all went to school, and cannot visualise it looking any different to when they were there. In other words, ‘it served me so why change’? I wonder if they would feel the same about their hospitals if they looked like they did during the industrial age?

More than any other time in the history of education, students have open access to resources and information outside the domain of the traditional school or teacher. If schools are to meet the rapidly changing world and the needs of employers, then we have to reassess how schools can continue to stay relevant. The need for greater focus on meaningful enterprise educational opportunities has never been more important.

The reality is that 70 per cent of young people are currently entering the workforce in jobs that will be radically affected by automation, while 40 per cent of the current jobs won’t even exist due to automation.

Don’t get me wrong, schools are about educating, not simply training or just imparting generic capabilities. Content is still important. Engineers must achieve a certain level mathematical competency. I for one do not want to drive across a bridge designed by a someone who has great communication and EQ skills but incorrectly calculated the weight-loading parameters of a bridge.

The ongoing challenge is that schools have remained land-locked with so much content and expectations from systems and authorities to which they must report. It feels that this is only increasing, not decreasing. In essence, the curriculum has only been given token space to address such skills as general capabilities or approaches to learning. Unfortunately, if a particular skill or content does not appear in a topic test or end of year exam, then parents and students deem it to be not worth focusing upon. 

The International Baccalaureate’s approach to learning skills such as communication, thinking, self-management, research and social skills are central to a student’s journey. None of these are taught at the expense of content. 

I am not proposing we do not need schools, in fact the absolute contrary given the demise and moral unravelling of many of our so-called stable societal institutions. More than ever schools will need to be a cornerstone of society, a place of learning, a place of service, a place of socialisation, and a place of worship and spiritual guidance. 

As someone once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes. The original industrial school system was designed to produce employees who could participate in the industrial model of mass production; those days are long gone. Schools need to be freed up to deliver programs that ensure all students are given the chance to become meaningful participants in a rapidly changing workplace, both locally and globally.

Dr Alec O'Connell

Dr Alec O'Connell FACE FAIM FNAAUC is the Headmaster of Scotch College and an AIM WA Professional Member.

Protecting your future diary
28 February 2019
Protecting your future diary Greta Andrews-Taylor

Managing time well is more than filling your diary – it is about how you think about time, the language you use, how you juggle the hours you have, your energy and your priorities.

Protecting your future diary

by Greta Andrews-Taylor 28 February 2019

Managing time well is more than filling your diary – it is about how you think about time, the language you use, how you juggle the hours you have, your energy and your priorities, says personal and business development coach Shirley Anne Fortina AFAIM.

Ms Fortina is Director and Principal of POD Consultancy and was speaking at an AIM WA sundowner called Protect Your Future Diary. “Why is it that when we look at our diaries in advance we think: we’ve got so much time,” she asked.

“But then when we look to next week, it looks diabolical and we think: how on earth did I accept all of that into my diary?”

Protecting your future diary is about protecting yourself from an unrealistic or unfruitful schedule.

Quoting an unknown author, Ms Fortina said every day presents everyone with a time credit of 86,400 seconds. Whatever is left at the end of the day is deleted.

“If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours,” she said.

“Each of us has the opportunity to open up this bank account every single day, and we need to make the most of it because time, as they say, waits for no one.”

Ms Fortina said the relationship between language and time was often distorted, and that the words ‘important’, ‘urgent’ and ‘ASAP’ meant different things to different people.

“We need to think about what our relationship is with that language and ask ourselves, is it clear to everyone we’re working with so we’re all on the same page?” she said.

When you consider the Eisenhower matrix (urgent vs important) one of the ways to manage your diary is to delegate effectively. “Don’t say to the person you delegate to, ‘I need this back ASAP’. Say instead ‘I need this back in two days’ time’,” she said.

“Make sure you double the time that you think it will take you to do something - this creates a buffer should unforeseen circumstances occur for you to then build your way around it.

“This way you don’t over promise and underdeliver.”

Ms Fortina explored the value of time through ‘time audits’, which she said could be used to find out how long was spent on activities at home – such as food preparation and grooming, travelling to and from work and sleeping – and at work. The sums are then deducted from the 24-hour total.

“How much time do you spend when you first get into the office getting sucked into what I call the sand?” Ms Fortina asked.

To illustrate her point, Ms Fortina presented an analogy involving a professor and a philosophy class – rocks were put into a glass jar and the professor asked the class if the jar was full. Pebbles and sand went in next, with the students insisting at each stage the jar was full.

“No matter how full your life may seem, no matter what’s going on in your life, you need to take care of the rocks first – important things – your health, your happiness, your loved ones,” she said.

Not sweating the small stuff and keeping an eye on the most important aspects of life were integral for efficient functioning within the workplace.

“Think about when you get into work every day in the context of the rocks, the pebbles and the sand. If you get into work and you jump into the sand are you going to have the capacity to then get to the important stuff?”

The image of juggling glass balls and rubber balls was used to convey the importance of priorities – the glass balls represent the rocks – the important things you want to keep in the air, and the rubber balls bounce back should they fall.

“A lot of us try to keep the rubber balls in the air at the same time as the glass balls because we haven’t taken time to think about our priorities,” Ms Fortina said.

“A lot of people will say things like I don’t have time. 

“How about we replace that with ‘it’s not a priority right now’?"

When it came to taking time for ourselves, Ms Fortina advised being generous with the amount of time a task was expected to take. 

“Why don’t we lock in expectations that give us the right amount of time to work on it?” she asked. “Then if we finish beforehand, we’ve got a credit back in.”

The importance of strategically managing one’s energy levels was also discussed, with particular reference made to the four energies originally devised by worldrenowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization Founder Verne Harnish in his article Resilient Executive: A Better Way to Work.  

The first layer of energy is how much sleep you are getting, the second is physical activity, the third is what you are fuelling your body with and the fourth is time spent relaxing.

Compromising on these energies could be detrimental, Ms Fortina said, adding that assessing energy levels could be the key to working more effectively.

She advocated using the time of day where energy levels are the highest to tackle the most challenging or difficult tasks and leaving those activities that you really enjoy for when they are at their lowest.

“It’s about thinking about your own rhythm and cadence and looking at how you manage your day,” she said.

Greta Andrews-Taylor

Greta Andrews-Taylor is a Journalist at The West Australia and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Bringing your true self to work
12 February 2019
Bringing your true self to work Sandra Argese

For decades employees have been forced to hide their sexuality to fit into a prejudicial corporate landscape, Michael Kirby AC CMG discussed his own experience and explains how the environment is changing.

Bringing your true self to work

by Sandra Argese 12 February 2019

Imagine how it would feel to walk into work every day and have to lie about who you really are, to be forced to masquerade as someone you are not, to have your sense of your individuality shattered and be forced to mask your sexuality to fit into a corporate landscape of homophobia and prejudice. 

This scenario has been common in workplaces around the world for decades.

Employees have pretended to be straight when gay, hidden their bisexuality or pretended they were not transgender in order to fit in.

This was something that Michael Kirby AC CMG had to deal with for a number of years, and he certainly isn’t the only one.

A former Justice of the High Court of Australia and Australia’s longest serving judge, Mr Kirby has served as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS, as UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, and as High Commissioner for the Human Rights’ Judicial Reference Group and UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights.

Mr Kirby, champion and campaigner for human rights for decades, said that it was traditionally preferred for people to pretend they were heterosexual at work.

“The basic problem about gay people living in society has been that everyone accepts you as long you pretended you were straight,” he told Leader.

“I did that for years. I pretended at work that I was straight. That was what was expected of me. Everybody gossiped about me, and many people would have known about me, but they were very happy that I was pretending I was straight.

In the past, Mr Kirby said, employees did not feel it was wrong that homosexual individuals felt they had to masquerade as heterosexuals at work.

He said it was an expectation homosexuals were forced to oblige with and stemmed from their co-workers’ homophobic tendencies and discomfort.

“Unfortunately, this is a very irrational situation to adopt and it’s also bad for the mental health and physical health of gay people. They should not be subjected to it. Well, those days are over.”

Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in December last year, as well as the landmark decision by the Northern Territory State Government to join other states and territories in legalising same-sex adoption in March, the recent 2018 Australian Workplace Equity Index (AWEI) Employee Survey found Australian workplaces were demanding, and subsequently enacting, change in the form of inclusive initiatives.

According to the findings, which surveyed over 23,000 employees from 89 organisations, 3709 respondents (16 per cent) identified as being LGBTI and 86 per cent of LGBTI employees who worked at places with active inclusion initiatives felt comfortable being open and honest about their sexuality.

Over 88 per cent of non-LGBTI respondents believed that LGBTI employees can comfortably be themselves at their workplace, compared to only 80 per cent of LGBTI respondents. However, LGBTI employees working at organisations that had active inclusion initiatives felt much more comfortable, with 86 per cent saying they were comfortable being themselves at work.

The survey also revealed that while 91 per cent of LGBTI respondents thought inclusion was necessary, only 73 per cent of non-LGBTI employees felt the same way, indicating there is still much to be done in supporting diversity at work.

Sixty-two per cent of LGBTI respondents said they felt being more open about their sexuality or gender identity at work had a positive impact on their productivity, a finding Mr Kirby said was accurate.

“An employer gets 100 per cent of the employee’s time and devotion to work [if they aren’t pretending], but if the employee has to pretend to be somebody else, they will not give 100 per cent,” Mr Kirby said.

“When people are comfortable, relaxed and open about their personalities and their lives, they fit in better, and that’s not only positive for them but also good for the organisation.”

The survey also asked LGBTI respondents what influenced them to be more open about their identities at work. The most commonly cited answer (70.8 per cent) was a desire to ‘be authentic’. Almost half (47.9 per cent) said they wanted to put less energy into censoring themselves while 44.8 per cent said they wanted to be a role model for others. Other reasons cited by respondents included a desire for greater freedom to talk about life, partners and the community (42.7 per cent).

Placing a spotlight on leadership, over 95 per cent of senior leaders were confident their managers would address bullying or harassment of LGBTI employees but only 83 per cent of LGBTI employees concurred, highlighting the divide between the perception of senior leadership and actual experience in the workplace.

Mr Kirby said those in leadership positions had a duty to discover what was beneficial for the corporation and should make it their responsibility to weave themes of acceptance into a company’s DNA.

This sentiment was echoed in the survey, with over 83 per cent of LGBTI respondents saying that they felt managers should be trained in inclusion.

Shareholders were served best, Mr Kirby said, when a company was able to achieve good profits and succeed in meeting corporate goals.

“That’s why this is becoming a major factor in good employee relations,” he said.

“You do find there’s less of this pretence than existed in the olden days. This is in part because of social networks and the fact that people are much more revealing of their lives nowadays.

“If you’re pretending to be something other than you are, that is simply catering for a prejudice.”

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Sandra Argese is a Journalist at The West Australian Newspapers and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.

Riding the Digital Wave
06 February 2019
Riding the Digital Wave Greta Andrews-Taylor

Professional Member Profile of Boyd Hauff AIMM

Riding the Digital Wave

by Greta Andrews-Taylor 06 February 2019

Previous Dapper Apps Digital Account Manager Boyd Hauff AIMM assessment of the world of business today is frank.

“All companies are technology companies first, and whatever they are doing second,” he told Leader.

“You look at Spotify, it’s a technology company that happens to do music.

“Amazon is another good one – technology comes first, retail second.

“If you’re not a technology company now or you’re not considering it, you’re already behind.”

This view has undoubtedly driven Mr Hauff’s passion for his work in mobile app development.

A finalist in the Future Leader of the Year category at the Australian Marketing Institute’s 2017 Awards for Marketing Excellence, Mr Hauff said his role at Dapper Apps was somewhat unconventional when it came to the idea of leadership.

“I have to lead projects with zero authority,” he said. “I ha