Workplace diversity is something that organisations and corporate Boards aims for. We’ve all heard that diversity is good when it comes to the make-up of our workforce. The Harvard Business Review maintains that companies need to invest as much in their employees as their customers. “The case for establishing a truly diverse workforce, at all organizational levels, grows more compelling each year. The financial impact, as proven by multiple studies, makes this a no-brainer.” Its 2019 report concluded, “A great employee experience leads to a great customer experience.”
‘But why does diversity matter?’ is a common question I get asked when banging on about recruitment bias in my job as an HR Consultant. Because that’s what the statistics show when it’s not just lip service. A 2018 survey of 1,700 companies across eight countries found that organisations with diverse management experienced revenue increases of 19%.
It was backed up by a significant Built-In report in 2020 that concluded diverse companies:
Have 2.3 times as much cash flow
Are 15 per cent more likely to exceed median industry profits
Are preferred by three out of four workers (CEO Magazine, 2022)
“Studies have shown that having diverse thinking approaches, and demographic differences, leads to increased innovation [because] you’ve got people coming from different thinking approaches who are prepared to challenge the status quo and question established processes (Sydney Morning Herald, 2022).”
I’ve spent the past two winters working as a ski instructor at Falls Creek. Covid made me realise that life's too short to miss out on doing what you love. I can say, hand on my heart, that the Falls Creek Snowsports School is the MOST diverse workplace I have ever worked, and that’s quite a long list of employers before I started running my own businesses. The people who work as instructors at Falls Creek are the most diverse group I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Diversity of snowsport disciplines, qualifications, work experience, nationality, age, gender, culture, language, religion, sexual orientation, relationship status and skin colour.
The people who work as instructors at Falls Creek are the kindest, most generous, and most supportive people I’ve ever worked with (and again, that list is long). If you were allowed into the instructor’s locker room on any given day, you’d find an experienced instructor being asked for and providing suggestions on technical exercises to improve a stance/rotary/edging/pressure control problem. You’d find loads of people asking another person how their morning lessons went. You’d at times find someone offering comfort and support after a tricky afternoon lesson with a challenging guest.
You’ll find people asking questions about the certification level they are training for and getting great answers from those who’ve achieve those certs. You’ll find people offering to go out for a ski or a board with those who need to practise a technique for their next exam. You’ll find people working, studying, and socialising together. You’ll find people sharing accommodation. You find people car-pooling. You’ll find joy, energy, tiredness, excitement, frustration, professionalism, strength, tenacity, kindness, grace under pressure and support. You’ll find banter, lots of banter, about everything under the sun that always finds its way back to the topics of skiing and boarding eventually.
What my HR brain is reminded of when thinking about the Falls Creek Snowsports School, is that because of traditional hiring practises that for decades has embraced hiring foreign workers, and because that practise has evolved to meet twenty-first century requirements, Falls Creek Ski Lifts has a department with such diversity it would be the envy of many an organisation in any industry anywhere in the world.
I love being a ski instructor. Going to work as an instructor feels emotionally like being at ski camp. By that I mean the work sparks joy. I get to go to work with the most talented, generous, collaborative, fun, kind, multigenerational and diverse people. For all the juggling I do to be on the hill in winter, working with these amazing people makes it all worthwhile. In a way, this is my little love letter to my snowsports colleagues.
First published in This Week in Falls Creek & Mt Beauty, 02/08/2022