Article | Evolving Workforces

Economics of Equitability

How do equitable organisations drive economic value? From diversity in the workplace, inclusive spaces, and practices to drive investments.

March 8, 2023

The image shows two female colleagues talking in the city with people walking in the background.

Conventional economics dictates the financial health of any business, but beyond the quantifiable components resides the rise of a new way of doing business: equitable economics.  

This often-underrated concept explores how businesses of every size can connect performance factors to potential business outcomes. From diversity in the workspace, inclusive spaces and practices to drive investment, the underlying question for management today is how do equitable organisations ultimately drive economic value?  

Lisa Crennan, Managing Director of Accenture Australia, Rebecca Jinks, ESG and Sustainability Director at Taronga Ventures, and Antoinette Lattouf, Australian journalist, author and diversity advocate, are experts in this field who provided their expert insights at CBRE’s Flow and Glow event.  

Inclusive and equitable growth, technology, and social influence.  

Rebecca Jinks specialises in the intersection of ESG and real assets. With Taronga Ventures, she is working with companies to leverage technology and innovation solutions to mitigate ESG risks and take advantage of sustainability related opportunities.  

When looking at the technology landscape, Jinks has seen several socially focused technology startups which she believes is a forward-looking indicator of where Australia is going with an awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion.  

What socially focused startups are doing:  

  • Taking a commercial building as an example, socially-focused startups can use technologies to ensure that commercial buildings are accessible and approachable for all people within the space and precinct. This is accomplished in regards to visual, audible abilities and sensory technologies. Jinks has seen some corporates take on these technologies to ensure their spaces are inclusive and believes there is huge opportunity in this space for corporate innovation, growth and talent attraction.  
  • Startups by nature must overcome bigger challenges than corporates and need to be innovative in their thinking. Jinks has seen that successful startups are those that are thinking more diversly, meaning: “Organisations that have gender ethnic or ability diversity has better decisions 87% of the time.”  
  • There’s also a role in technology and built environments to facilitate progress in inclusion and equitable growth. When asked if Australia’s CBDs are inclusive, Jinks says it’s not as inclusive as they could be and raises the point about safety in precincts and how technology can play a larger part in this. “Power poles with camera and lights on them to deter violence and generally make people feel safer in spaces. There are ways to make our precincts accessible to those that are not necessarily able bodied whether that’s physically or some sort of hidden impairment.” 

“As soon as we start to see more diversity in the public and we interact with it, it becomes normal and it becomes comfortable,” she says.   

Antoinette Lattouf believes that the conversation around diversity in corporate Australia has moved to have a more intersectional approach to the topic. It's more than just gender diversity and also covers disability diversity with one in five Australians living with a disability.   

These are Lattouf’s observations on diversity:  

  • It is important for everyone to take steps to reverse entrenched inequities in the Australian culture and there are benefits for organisations when they clearly communicate their diversity authentically.  
  • Lattouf has seen that clarity is key when communicating diversity. When organisations and corporates make it clear they are supporting certain movements in consultation with people, it is much more likely to be received well compared to organisations showing support with no consultation which is when the reverse effect happens.  

Lisa Crennan is an expert in harnessing innovation and technology to fuel growth, collaboration, business optimisation and delivering improved customer experiences. When Crennan first started out in her technology career 30 years ago, she was one of the only females in the industry. Lisa believes the Australian workforce industry has made huge progress in the gender diversity space and that Australia has a level of equality where individuals can aspire to be in all roles. However, she also believes there is still a way to go in regards to gender representation at a senior level and different ways of thinking is needed to fuel corporate growth.  

These are her suggestions and thoughts for Australian corporations: 

  • Providing inclusive workspaces should be at the front and centre of corporate strategies. 
  • Shift the old ways and dated standards of work performance. “Allowing the personalised choice, we can no longer dictate to our people that they must be in the office nine till five, Monday to Friday,” she says. “It is changing, everyone has different needs on what works for them, and as long as they achieve the output of what is needed in their role, what should it matter where they work and how they work? I think those are very important in driving the diversity and inclusion conversation forward.”  

These key themes relate to how businesses of every size can connect performance factors to potential business outcomes. To watch the full conversation, see the below panel that Phil Rowland facilitated with Lisa Crennan, Rebecca Jinks, and Antoinette Lattouf.  

If you’re interested to hear more about this topic, subscribe to CBRE’s Talking Property Podcast to listen in to a deeper conversation with Rebecca Jinks on Taronga’s investments shaping our future.