Welcome to another edition of Fast Five - our fortnightly series where we ask Victoria’s most influential and exciting business leaders five simple questions to unveil the challenges, successes, and behind-the-scenes operations of Australia’s leading institutions.
‘Stay curious and value difference.'
This week, we spoke to Corinne Proske, CEO of Victorian-based not-for-profit, JobsBank – an organisation committed to creating full-service business support that makes socially inclusive employment easy and sustainable.
Corinne breaks down the concept of ‘invisible barriers’ and the challenges faced by job seekers from diverse backgrounds. She also discusses JobsBank’s crucial work in this space and the need for strategic work to link the ‘hidden workforce’ with employers.
Corinne shares her insights on adapting to online collaboration in response to the challenges presented by COVID-19, supporting staff by ensuring they are working in an environment that enables them to thrive, sustainability as a growing focus for business, and how JobsBank has successfully continued to drive change through the pandemic.
#1: How has the growing trend of remote working impacted inclusivity in the workplace?
Working from home was accelerated by the ongoing nature of the pandemic. During the year, we have had our staff in the office only for short periods, and like many organisations, we had to adapt to online collaboration - which hasn’t always been easy.
The silver lining for JobsBank is that working from home resulted in greater inclusivity; we became aware of each other’s circumstances, family commitments and challenges and gradually brought our whole selves to work.
We listened carefully and responded flexibly to provide people with the environment they needed to thrive. During this current lockdown, we offered additional work flexibility and paid leave for our team members. As a result, we have a highly engaged team that celebrates differences and works well together.
#2: How has sustainability grown as a concern for businesses?
Consumers are shifting their behaviour and are looking to environmental credentials as a point of difference. Many of the organisations we are working with are exploring ways to enhance their environmental contribution to make commercial sense - sustainability is a growing focus for all business. There is also a growing understanding that climate change is real and that business practices need to adapt to reduce risks and make the most of new opportunities.
#3: What are the greatest issues regarding diversity and inclusivity that businesses are facing? How can they solve them?
The invisible barriers! At JobsBank, we see the same paradigm reflected every day. Namely, that business wants to hire diverse and talented staff, but staff from diverse backgrounds report challenges in finding work. We need to do strategic work to link the ‘hidden workforce’ with employers.
Usually the pool of ‘hidden talent’ faces a suite of invisible barriers that conventional employment can’t identify easily, be it a lengthy accreditation process, language barriers, access to technology or self-exclusion. At JobsBank, we know that diverse and inclusive workplaces produce better outcomes, solve problems more innovatively and establish a great culture.
That’s where JobsBank comes in – we link these two groups together, forming an imperative function in navigating social procurement and inclusive employment.
#4: What are the most common misconceptions businesses have when it comes to retaining talented staff?
We know that remuneration, by itself, isn’t enough to attract and retain talented staff in 2021. Increasingly, employees want a sense of mission or values alignment with their work, as well as flexibility.
Working from home has demonstrated that staff want to exert some agency over their working days, to be trusted to deliver on their duties without necessarily punching in and out, 9 – 5. They also want to fit in and bring their whole self to work. This means ensuring the workplace culture is inclusive, safe, and values diversity.
At JobsBank, we recently appointed several talented people from diverse cultures who had faced the invisible barriers to employment and had felt excluded in Australian workplaces. Watching these people come out of their shells and flourish as they share their cultural backgrounds, experiences and insights is humbling, and is also a huge source of innovation. Stay curious and value difference!
#5: What has been JobsBank's greatest accomplishment over the past year?
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, JobsBank hasn’t stopped working with business to drive change. We have partnered with many employers about their workforce shortages and helped them identify hidden talent, as well as placing more than one hundred targeted job seekers into long term employment.
We have also worked with many businesses on supporting the navigation of the Social Procurement Framework and helping deliver commercial yet impactful outcomes across diverse sectors.
Personally, my greatest achievement has to be watching my team grow and flourish - together we are ready to harness the opportunities of 2022!