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National HR manager celebrates strong support for DEI group

By Shandel McAuliffe | |6 minute read
National HR manager celebrates strong support for DEI group

Olivia Holmes, Macpherson Kelley's national HR manager spoke with The HR Leader about the DEI work the firm is doing, and the impressive levels of participation they've had with their DEI working group.


Commenting on the enthusiasm Macpherson Kelley has seen for their DEI working group, Ms Holmes commented: "I had 10% of my workforce put their hand up to participate... So to have 10% across all offices, we have four offices, across all levels and all areas of the business from corporate to legal, from our principles to our corporate staff is just phenomenal."

She continued: "I now have 10% of my staff who are change makers, who are going to lead upon this work and to make us all accountable for bringing about change and building a really collegiate, inclusive work culture, which is ultimately what all of this is about."

Explaining why this high level of support is so important to an initiative like Macpherson Kelley's DEI working group, Ms Holmes stated: "People have got to lead this work. I often say (and my people, I think they like this, I certainly like it), 'It's not my plan. Yes, I will lead the work on diversity, equity, inclusion and tell the business all the reasons that it makes sense for us to do. But this is our people's plan.' Our people want to lead this work."

Ms Holmes provided insight into how the working group is organised around key 'pillars': "We have four pillars which are culture and religion, gender, disability, and LGBTIQA+. So of my 20 plus group, we are all split off into smaller groups of eight. And every person has nominated their particular pillar that perhaps they associate with or feel passionate about. And they will work as part of that working group to lead on the initiatives with the HR team sitting shotgun with them to guide them through and help with the doing to roll this out in our business over the next 3, 6, 12, 24, 36 months."

"We're really appreciating that this is a marathon, it's not a sprint and it's about getting it right and it's about adjusting course. And already within our committee meeting, we are probably already identifying other pillars that we're getting excited about. You think about age, you think about Indigenous pathways. And there are so many other areas that we could touch on; you've got to be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. So hence why we've perhaps settled on the first four pillars," she added.

Macpherson Kelley is investing time into DEI because, as Ms Holmes stated, "It's just the right thing to do". She elaborated: "We know that there are so many commercial reasons to do it. There is a lot of research that supports that diverse workplaces will have more successful and profitable outcomes. But for me in our business, it's just so much simpler than that. Yes, it's nice that it'll lead to business success, but it's the right thing to do. The communities that we participate in are diverse, our clients are diverse. So it only makes sense that we recognise that our business is that too. And to make sure that our initiatives, business practise and HR philosophy is reflective of the community that we participate, belong in and contribute to."

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full conversation with national HR Manager Olivia Holmes and commercial associate Emma Berry is below. 

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel has recently returned to Australia after working in the UK for eight years. Shandel's experience in the UK included over three years at the CIPD in their marketing, marcomms and events teams, followed by two plus years with The Adecco Group UK&I in marketing, PR, internal comms and project management. Cementing Shandel's experience in the HR industry, she was the head of content for Cezanne HR, a full-lifecycle HR software solution, for the two years prior to her return to Australia.

Shandel has previous experience as a copy writer, proofreader and copy editor, and a keen interest in HR, leadership and psychology. She's excited to be at the helm of HR Leader as its editor, bringing new and innovative ideas to the publication's audience, drawing on her time overseas and learning from experts closer to home in Australia.

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