Accelerating Women: Rethinking workplace inclusion in leadership

Participation and representation of women and minorities is a priority at RD Consulting.

Recently, RD attended the Women & Leadership Symposium. We have been reflecting on a statement made by Christine Clarke CSC, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Ambassador for Women and Girls. Christine suggested that to create inclusive workforces and provide opportunities for women and minorities we need to hold space, make space, and take space.

Hold space

We cannot afford to go backwards when it comes to workplace diversity. Diverse representation requires nurturing, it should not be a KPI that is met once and then forgotten.

Holding space is the process of providing an environment that allows everyone to speak, be heard and contribute to tangible impact. Holding space is centred around inclusion and ensuring that at all decision points different perspectives and opinions are consulted. Holding space can be as simple as ensuring everyone has an opportunity to speak in meetings or as complex as identifying a lack of diverse representation and facilitating recruitment rounds just for certain groups.

RD is committed to providing professional development to all staff members at all levels of their careers. We are proud to have a leadership team made up of over 70% women and will maintain a leadership team that is no lower than 50% women.

Make space


We are responsible for creating space for women and minorities. Making space is about understanding your privilege as a person or an organisation and using this privilege to provide underrepresented people with a seat at the table.

Making space starts with providing a safe environment to attract and retain diverse talent. As an organisation, we have created policies contributing to a safe working environment and accepting culture. Making space also requires perpetual reflection, asking who isn’t in the room and how do our policies and processes impact different people?

As RD grows, our diversity must grow. We are making space by:

  • Requesting referrals, this provides our team with the opportunity to bring forth and sponsor diverse folks.
  • Emphasising culture in the recruitment process. Experience is not just obtained inside educational institutions and workplaces. We value life journeys and focus the potential for professional development.
  • Listening to our current staff and proactively implementing their advice. Our staff understand first-hand how our culture makes them feel, and they lead by example in times of cultural change.

Take space

In order to achieve diverse workplaces, we must first address participation. Participation in the workforce provides women economic independence, contributing to financial security and autonomy to make decisions.

The workforce participation of women currently stands at 67.4% and people with disabilities at 53.4%, compared to men at 78.5%. The representation of women and people with disabilities declines further in management and leadership roles.

There are numerous contributing factors to these figures, such as gender and able bias which requires immense systematic change. However, there is one line of effort that organisations can start changing today: instilling confidence.

Men will apply for positions even if they do not meet all the selection criteria, whereas women are likely to apply if they only meet 100%.

We are committed to instilling confidence within our team, especially women. We are driving cultural change to ensure women and minorities at RD feel supported to put their hand up for opportunities and leadership positions.
We further work to understand and breakdown the barriers that prevent women from taking space, such as gendered parental responsibilities and unfavourable culture.

Inclusion

It is important to keep in mind that diversity without inclusion is tokenistic and does not serve your people, your organisation, or your community. This framework provides tangible steps to increase workplace diversity by implementing inclusive action. This framework also provides steps at a personal level and organisation level. Bringing your team on board and having authentic conversations about this topic will help to mobilise commitment from the team.

Adrienne from RD Consulting working on a laptop

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