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For Andrew Borger, promoting diversity in the workplace is personal.
“I've got four children - two boys and two girls,’’ says Andrew. “And what's really important for me is that all four of them have equal opportunities. That's my key personal motivation for getting involved in our company’s diversity and inclusion strategy.’’
Andrew is our Head of Office Development, and he also leads our company-wide diversity program. Putting a senior operational manager in charge of a social change initiative may seem unusual, but it’s a sign of our absolute commitment to building an inclusive culture.
Andrew, who took on the additional role last year, says: “Our chairman, David Clark, wants us to treat diversity like a property deal, and make it happen".
“We already had a great policy platform around diversity built by our people team. But it was felt that someone within the business, who is in the market engaging with stakeholders all the time, would be in the best position to fast-track implementation.’’
Central to promoting gender equality in our workplace has been our move to an agile, activity-based way of working, which frees our people to step in and out of work during the day - or for longer periods over their careers - to meet family and other personal commitments.
But introducing such a transformational initiative is one thing, and truly changing people’s behaviour is another, and Andrew says it has really helped to have managers such as himself leading by example:
“We encourage anyone who's got something personal on in the afternoon to go and do it. We trust that they'll still get the job done. Whether it be after hours or at another time of their day, we know that the output will be achieved".
“As managers, we need to demonstrate that people really can do this. We're not talking about someone leaving their coat behind the seat to give the impression that they are still at work – we want our people to feel comfortable doing these things in a really open way.’’
Society is changing in relation to women carrying all the responsibility for family, and as an employer we encourage both female and male employees to take the time they need to support their families. Men and women have joint obligations in relation to children, and we want to create a culture and a work environment which recognises that.
“So we encourage our managers, male and female, to say out loud, in strong voice ‘Hey, I'm going to watch my children at the swimming carnival, hey I'm going to pick them up from school,’ says Andrew.
‘’By doing that we are trying to show the whole business it's really OK to have a flexible work life. It's a small gesture, but it carries a lot of weight. It says we acknowledge that we have a life well beyond work.’’
And demonstrating a practical commitment to diversity and inclusion is just as vital in our external relationships too.
“How we face the market on a daily basis is really important,’’ says Andrew. “We're conscious that our tenant customers and investment customers have very diverse workforces. So it’s really important that whenever we're presenting a new opportunity to them, we demonstrate that we have a diverse offering at Charter Hall.
“It shows the depth of our knowledge, that we’re looking at things in multiple different ways. By bringing a diverse workforce to a challenge, we get far better insights and results than by more traditional routes.’’
Women now make up more than half of our employee complement, and management are very focused on increasing the representation of women at a middle and senior management levels. Andrew says extending our diversity agenda beyond gender is also a key focus.
‘’Diversity is far more broad than just gender and it does cover age, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc,’’ says Andrew.
“Our goal is to have a strong representation of society in our organisation. It is a high-priority BAU (business as usual) for us, and we’re treating it as a deal.’’