Inclusion and Diversity: a Win-Win

Research continues to demonstrate that inclusion and diversity in the workplace benefits not only the internal culture, but also outcomes such as creativity, strategic thinking, productivity and profit. In other words it’s a win-win for teams, clients, projects and the business.

Culture | Sydney

21 May 2021

At DesignInc Sydney, we actively foster diversity and inclusion across our organisation. It aligns with our core goals—to support our people to reach their personal and professional potential, to deliver excellent results for our clients and to make a difference.

We continue to take steps to understand how the often-invisible biases of gender and culture operate within our organisation and have implemented progressive initiatives that put us at the leading edge of inclusion and diversity within our sector. We strive toward creating a team that comes to work fresh and full of energy, has time for family and friends, and arrives at a workplace that is comfortable and nurturing.

Gender Equity

 

In 2018 DesignInc Sydney became involved in the Champions of Change program. We reflected on the gender biases within our organisation and realised that though representation of women and men across the business was broadly equal, this wasn’t reflected in the leadership split. We have appointed a range of new female Directors, Principals and Associates (Mary-Anne McGirr, Cathryn Drew-Bredin, Lynne Hancock, Megan Walker, Miriam Enoch, Joyce Lim and Violetta Boyd). We are proud to now have 50:50 gender representation at Director level.

We are proud to now have 50:50 gender representation at Director level.
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As part of our journey we also ran a series of ‘listening and learning’ sessions with individuals and focus groups across the organisation, investigating key drivers, aspirations, barriers and stressors. We were shocked to learn that many of our talented young people felt they were unable to pursue both a family and a career—that the financial and career implications of working in our profession was irreconcilable with having children. We also learned that carer responsibilities for family members such as elderly parents were placing stress on some people. And though these responsibilities were present across our team, they were particularly amplified for women.

This realisation was a reality-check for our management team, and triggered us to think deep and hard about how to help our people to feel more supported in balancing their personal and professional lives. We came up with a range of policies and practices to encourage a better balance, including ‘Flex@DI’ and a progressive Parental Leave Policy.

Flexibility

Our ‘Flex@DI’ program provides ad-hoc and formal flexible work arrangements for all employees at DesignInc Sydney through options such as flexible start and finish times, opportunities for part time work and job sharing and flexibility with work locations (remote or in-office). All employees are able to apply to purchase an extra one or two weeks of annual leave.

Parental Leave Policy

Our Parental Leave Policy provides support for both primary and secondary carers after the arrival of newborn to help them spend time with their baby and to help ease the transition back to work. In addition to the Australian Government entitlements, for primary carers we offer additional paid leave, continued payments of superannuation and assistance with childcare costs. For secondary carers, we offer additional paid leave and flexible working options.

Cultural Diversity

 

Another pillar of our equity framework is cultural diversity. With over 34 nations represented across our team of 110 people, we are one of the most culturally diverse design firms in the country. Our internal culture is dynamic, diverse and respectful. We recruit specialists based on their skills and expertise, and embrace cultural diversity.

DesignInc Group Shot
With over 34 nations represented across our team of 110 people, we are one of the most culturally diverse design firms in the country.
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Indigenous Voices in the Built Environment

 

Australia is at a pivotal point in recognising and integrating First Nations voices in the broader community. We believe Indigenous voices have a place in the built environment and actively seek to support and connect with Aboriginal communities through our projects and our organisation through scholarships, recruitment, partnerships, internal programs. In 2019 we funded an Aboriginal architectural scholarship, and in 2020 we created a majority Indigenous owned full-service design practice—Nguluway DesignInc.

Aboriginal Architectural Scholarship

In 2019 DesignInc Sydney partnered with Western Sydney University to fund a new generous scholarship for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student studying architecture. Valued at $150,000 over five years, the scholarship provides $30,000 annually for living expenses, as well as opportunities for mentorship and employment while studying, and a guaranteed role at DesignInc upon graduating. We are excited that the first recipient of the scholarship commenced study in 2021.

We have partnered with Western Sydney University to fund a new generous scholarship for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student studying architecture.
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Nguluway DesignInc

Nguluway DesignInc is a Sydney-based design firm on Gadigal land, of the Eora nation. Bringing together Aboriginal leadership (through founding Director Craig Kerslake) and cultural knowledge with deep architectural design and delivery expertise (through DesignInc Sydney), our vision is to contribute to a prosperous nation that values and embraces culture in the built environment.

Nguluway DesignInc is led by First Nations Architect and proud Wiradjuri man Craig Kerslake, who draws upon his cultural heritage, community and knowledge of what Aboriginal people refer to as ‘Country.’ Craig often pushes design thinking to the unexpected, embracing an Aboriginal lens, spatial unity and scales of social engagement. He fosters this way of knowing across the team, bringing deep understanding to inform spatial planning and architectural form. This is achieved through a uniquely enriching process Craig refers to as ‘Designing from Country’ – a foundational premise of Nguluway DesignInc projects.

Nguluway DesignInc is accredited by the First Australians Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FACCI) and the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce (NSWICC). Clients benefit from meeting the Federal Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy criteria and the NSW Government’s Aboriginal Procurement Policy criteria. All projects are approached in a way that aligns with the NSW Government’s proposed Design & and Place SEPP.

A key pillar of the Nguluway DesignInc vision is to enhance cultural literacy and awareness through our organisation, industry and society.
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A key pillar of the Nguluway DesignInc vision is to enhance cultural literacy and awareness through our organisation, industry and society. We are starting this journey with our own people through a cultural literacy and awareness program within DesignInc. Craig is leading yarning circles with small groups of our team, sharing his personal journey as a Wiradjuri man and opening up discussions about the big questions, including:

  • What is belonging?
  • What are cultural protocols?
  • How do we engage with Traditional Custodians for a project?
  • What are the stories of a place, and who can tell them?

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