What I have learned about diversity from my Internship
By John Nguyen, Marketing Intern, The Agenda Agency
Being an intern at The Agenda Agency is a privileged position which offers a unique insight and experience into the development of a one’s first steps into their career path. The Agenda Agency is a boutique consulting firm specialising in corporate strategy, SME growth and diversity strategy, heavily emphasising on collaboration with leaders and organisations to drive growth, innovation and gender diversity. When I first joined The Agenda Agency, I had an extremely limited understanding of what diversity was and how it affected the workplace. I believed that the concept was only limited to gender inequality amongst the workplace. However, my time as a Marketing Intern has deepened my understanding of diversity and given me a unique opportunity to work towards achieving a more diverse working environment for the Australian workplace.
The core concept of diversity has changed over the years with shifting morals and ethics. The Agenda Agency has shown me that diversity encompasses a multitude of factors, not only restricted to gender inequality. It involves the acknowledgement of individual differences in various characteristics such as ethnicity, age, religious beliefs, cultural background and many more, and how these differences affect individual or groups within the workplace. By having an understanding and respect for these characteristics, businesses can ensure that their workplace facilitates a non-toxic and welcoming environment for employees of all experiences, especially in a heavily multicultural society such as Australia.
Though a general understanding of diversity by employees is vital to the enablement of a culturally diverse workplace, CEOs and managers have an obligation to lead change in the workplace. One of the most memorable experiences as an intern would be a masterclass that I was honoured to be able to attend, hosted by my firm. The topic of the event was dubbed ‘What’s the lived experience of diversity in your organisation?’ and was a valuable learning and eye-opening experience. It was revealed that in order to effectively enable diversity in the workplace, it is imperative that CEO and board members must be the advocators for pushing and encouraging change through diversity strategy. As leaders, they have the responsibility and moral obligation to create a well-functioning environment that allows employees to feel comfortable while being able to strive to achieve. Diversity will only be achieved with a solid foundation for strategy, facilitated by figures in managerial roles.
One of the most striking facts that I learnt during my internship was how rampart and common it was for organisations to fail in the diversity space. Over the months, I have conducted extensive research and reviews on the current state of diversity in the Australian workplace. It was a truly eye-opening and shocking discovery to see the statistics and figures about diversity e.g. 1 in 2 mothers have personally experienced workplace discrimination as a result of their pregnancy. Upon learning these appalling statistics, it is hard not to strive to pursue diversity and try to make a difference.
In my time as a Marketing Intern at The Agenda Agency, I gained valuable experience that will assist me throughout the rest of my career. Backed by a great team, I learnt many marketing skills and abilities that I will carry for life. However, my further understanding of diversity was the most invaluable experience I gained. This internship has shown me the clear flaws of the Australian workplace and how common poor cultural diversity is in society. By having a stronger understanding of the apparent issues, I can use my knowledge and skills to pursue diversity in the workplace and encourage others to participate in a great cause. I wouldn’t pick any other organisation to have this internship experience with.