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How culturally diverse is your team? How inclusive are you? Is cultural diversity part of your ethos? Let’s start talking about why it should be.

As our focus for this month is culture, it’s only fitting that we begin with culture and diversity within the workplace. It’s a big topic, and it means something different to everyone. How inclusive and culturally diverse is your team? Is it part of your ethos to welcome therapists from all walks of life across gender and body shape? How many different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds are represented throughout your business?

3.3% of the Australian population identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and over 1 in 4 are born overseas, so if you’ve answered ‘no’ or ‘not very’ to the previous questions – it may be time to ask yourself why.

Our industry prides itself on lifting each other up, learning from our peers, supporting one another, and in doing so, being the best we can be. So why is it that all too often, these same sentiments don’t extend to a one hundred percent inclusivity policy within the workplace? Everyone deserves a place in this incredible community, to be given a chance and to have their talents recognised equally. And when we facilitate this, so many wonderful opportunities present themselves, from deeper connections to elevated learning opportunities. Here we take you through some of the industry success stories we’ve seen, and how to facilitate better inclusivity for your team.

Firstly, let’s discuss the hiring process. How does one go about hiring more inclusively? We spoke to Keira Maloney from The Aesthetic Agency, specialist recruiters in the medical aesthetics industry, who tells us that inclusivity in the recruitment process is not practiced enough. “One week ago, I had a phone interview with a male dermal therapist that wanted our assistance in his job search,” says Kiera. “He wanted advice on what he may be doing wrong as he is incredibly educated, knowledgeable, articulate and frankly I have never heard a therapist speak about skin with such conviction and passion, but he is not finding any success in finding his dream job – performing advanced skin and laser treatments.” Sadly, says Kiera, if he were a female, he would be working already. “I gave him some tips, hard truths about how our industry works, and got him in touch with James Vivian, an award-winning male dermal therapist who changed the career path of this candidate in merely minutes on the phone, and subsequently, may have even changed his life. James’ open mind and encouragement was sorely needed by this person, and the industry would be better off if we had more forward-thinking business people like James.” Kiera shares with us some ugly truths about cultural discrimination she has seen throughout our industry, and why it’s time we need to make a change. “In my time as a recruiter, I have seen so many recruitment decision-makers in small businesses make their minds up about an applicant, simply by seeing their name on the resume.

I have seen Turkish business owners turn down candidates with a Greek surname and I have seen interviews cut short because the candidate was wearing a hijab. I have seen the worst of the worst, and it has only ignited my passion for crushing stereotypes in our industry. At The Aesthetic Agency, when we send through the candidate shortlist, a brief sheet is sent and surnames are not included, only first name, and an outline of their background, skills and experience and decisions are made purely based on that persons skill set.”

According to Kiera, inclusivity and diversity in a workplace is essential to being seen as a forward-thinking and progressive business. “The benefit of having a team full of varied backgrounds sparks more creativity and innovation when the team’s minds come together to plan how the business can grow and move forward. In addition, the opportunity to capture more clients is also a huge benefit. Clients with English as a second language will seek out a therapist that speaks their language and travel miles to get to them, then tell their entire family and community about them. The financial benefits of word-of-mouth need no explanation.” Another business benefiting from gender inclusivity right now is Macquarie Medispa, who; as director Karla McDiarmid tells us, recently enlisted male manager Matthew Rosten. In 2020, you really wouldn’t think this should be as big a deal as it is, but as previously mentioned by Kiera: for such a female-dominated industry, it’s a noteworthy decision. Fortunately, as Karla tells us – it’s paying off. “At first it was slightly intimidating being the only male in a workplace,” says Matt. “Even though most of the staff had established relationships, I worked hard to get to know each staff member as a person, regardless of gender. If you’re sincere with your interest in getting to know all the staff you will be received as a valued member of the team. I’ve been made to feel very welcome at Macquarie.”

“Genuine inclusivity is important to help everyone feel like they belong, that their unique talents matter and that their needs are cared for by all staff in the workplace. Having a diverse workplace will also maintain a diverse range of talent. Acknowledgement, respect and compassion for all when achieving goals is very important to me.” – Keira Maloney.

According to Matt, recently employed male Manager at Macquarie Medispa under the Ownership of Karla McDiarmid, it’s clear that a sense of inclusivity and unity is shared amongst the team, and that this is then passed onto clients, improving their experience within the clinic.

“The Macquarie team has been a joy to work with. I’ve been made to feel welcome from day one. There is a genuine spirit of cooperation and shared goals all revolving around giving our guests the best experience possible. Creating a positive experience for people during these tough times has been fantastic.” Karla tells us Matt has been a wonderful addition and natural fit on the team. “Matt was recommended to us as he has fantastic leadership skills. He is a qualified personal trainer so he understands customer service and helping others with advice and personalisation. Matt grew up with four sisters so he has no worries at all working within a predominantly female team.”

It turns out there may be a number of benefits to gender diversity that aren’t just limited to team growth. “Inclusivity in our business is extremely important for our team and guests,” says Karla. “Adding Matt to our team has increased the growth of men booking in for services in our business, our female guests love him, but the biggest positive change we have noticed is our Sothys men’s skincare sales have grown tremendously. If anyone is thinking about hiring a man, it’s definitely a great way to increase the percentage of men coming into your business and we know other men aren’t as nervous coming in to buy their wife or partner a gift or voucher once they see another man in the business.”

Dwayne Hawthorne, General Manager of HeadHunter Recruitment provides clarity around the term ‘workplace culture’ by adding that ‘workplace culture is the environment that you create for your employees. It places a definitive role in how your staff act, develop, grow, and the work satisfaction, and should be a focus of every employer.’. Something we could not agree more on, however, sadly don’t hear enough about. Dwayne continues, ‘it is a mix, of your business ethics, values, leadership and interactions, but is an unwritten and unspoken set of rules that assist in creating bonds between staff and employers alike within the business.’

In understanding the nature of workplace culture, can the way we recruit impact the culture and if so, should we be more mindful as business owners during the recruitment process? ‘Recruitment of your team, has an fundamental impact on every aspect of your culture. One person can redefine every aspect from ethics to interactions. It also has the ability to define if a staff member will stay within your business, as well as define how easy it is to attract potential new teams members and their fit into the team.’, so short answer; yes we should be more mindful of our recruitment impacting our culture.

As a business owner, you might be asking yourself right now ‘what can I do to proactively create a positive company culture’, which Dwayne notes is ‘probably the hardest part of the process – creating and keeping a positive company culture.’.

So, what can you do immediately and consistently to improved and implement cultural building systems and processes?

  • Cultivate relationships between your team.

The more staff trust and engage with each other, the more relaxed and positive the environment is.

  • Create a relaxed and inviting work space.

This might be by having plants to introduce nature and oxygen into the space, or create a relaxed staff room for breaks with couches and a range of food and drinks

  • One of the big two – TRAINING.

You can never stop learning. By providing ongoing and frequent training for your team, will elevate you more than most and show your team that you’re investing in their growth and development, helping them to feel validated and valued within your business.

  • The second of the big two – WORK/LIFE Balance.

This year, we saw a lot of people working from home. This has become key to a lot of industries, unfortunately we don’t have that luxury, so we need to provide it in different ways. From reduced days to split shifts and rotating rosters it’s a great idea to try to accommodate staff requests. For example, some staff would rather work 4 days across longer hours, or like the idea of part time security over casual ad hoc shifts. We need to be aware that we need to be adaptable when it comes to staff shifts moving into the silly season and beyond.

We hear that there’s another way to facilitate huge growth amongst your team, but sadly, it’s not adopted by many in Australia. Most aesthetic businesses we know refuse to hire staff who are on working visas, and while we can understand the difficulties behind investing in administration only to see staff leave mere months later, there are also many wonderful ways your staff can grow and benefit from those on visas being part of your team.

Rene Herald, the founder of Temple Skincare & Spa, shares with us her success stories from hiring non-residents. “At one stage last year, we had therapists from South Africa, Czech Republic, Ireland, Spain and of course Australia,” says Rene. “This brought such a diversity in skill sets to our team and made me realise that each culture carried a strength, and each country brought a level of training, experience and technique that was unique. For example, I have never experienced a better massage than from our Spanish therapist, our Irish therapist can run rings around the best of them with sales and KPIs, my Czech therapist was amazing at sales and has the hands of an angel, while my South African Manager brings a skill set, experience and drive I have never seen before in my 26 years in the industry.”

Rene tells us that she too only hired Australian residents until recently, after meeting an amazing therapist at a beauty bootcamp event. She became increasingly frustrated at the lack of skills she needed for her business, and decided to sponsor her now-manager from South Africa. “This was a daunting experience for me as I had no clue what I was doing and was scared of falling into a not-so-admirable situation. Looking back now, I am so grateful to have taken the leap, as what Lucille has brought to our country and industry is an asset to say the least.” It wasn’t all smooth sailing, says Rene. “Just like personality profiling, it takes a bit for all your team members to understand each other and build a strong team. I now see just how sensitive us Australians are, and that each culture has different mannerisms and language we need to learn. For example, a South African cannot tell an Australian ‘you must…’ as we see that as demanding and dictating, whereas to a South African, the intention is not that at all, she is simply asking you to do something!”

As for recommending the process to others, Rene says more businesses should be open to hiring staff already here on working visas. “They will surely contribute more than you expected to your team if you hire the right person.”