By Grazia Pecoraro, Principal Consultant & Founder – Perspective Hive Diversity Consulting
I believe that you get to choose in life. You can make each decision or interaction a positive experience, or one that perpetuates thinking and patterns that are hurtful or unhelpful.
This is why I’ve created Perspective Hive as a diversity consulting hub of expertise that helps companies value difference and where difference creates business value. I want to work with companies that want to think differently about difference.
After working for 10.5 years at Westpac in internal communications roles as well as leading several practices in the Inclusion & Diversity team, I was inspired to help more businesses benefit from creating impactful diversity, inclusion and flexibility outcomes like I have delivered in the banking sector.
I offer experience in creating company cultures where people don’t have to put their energy into masking their differences, but instead can think big and share their best ideas. Where they feel a sense of belonging and respect for the uniqueness they bring to work with them.
Because when done right, inclusion programs not only help individuals excel in their careers or have the potential to change society, but they are also good for business. And by this I mean increasing a whole range of outcomes from innovation and productivity, to wellbeing and engagement.
Why inclusion & diversity is my calling
I grew up in South Africa during the height of apartheid. It was an evil and shameful period in history, yet I was unaware of the privilege that I had been bestowed upon purely by being born into a family of ‘white’ parents (my dad being an Italian migrant was viewed with suspicion by some but was deemed to pass the colour credentials).
My enlightenment and change of perspective came during the second-last year of high school where I was selected to be part of a youth leadership program and travel around the country in a specially-fitted out train as part of a national reconciliation program. Nelson Mandela had been released from prison the year before and the country was starting to focus on change ahead of his presidency.
I journeyed for nine days with 60 students from other schools, attending lectures and having debates and discussions, while learning more about the land and its people.
This was my first interaction, at the age of 16, with peers who were not from my background and it deeply moved and changed me. When I returned I was not the same young woman whom my parents had dropped off at the station just over a week before
It was as if a fog of bias and discrimination that influenced my thoughts had been burnt away by the blistering light of understanding the impact of the opposite of inclusion – legalised, regulated and endorsed exclusion. I had been given a chance to sit and talk with, dance and sing with, as well as shake the hands of people who were persecuted for being different, yet they did not hate me.
Going into adulthood and moving to Australia in 2000 after being a successful international transfer program applicant with PR firm Text 100, where I then became an outsider as an emigrant, only fuelled my quest to learn and understand more about difference. Whether that’s being from a different school. Or from a different culture. Having a disability. Identifying as LGBTI or an Indigenous Australian. Having a different gender or being a different age to everyone else.
I can’t right the wrongs of the past. But I believe that can choose to make a positive impact, even in the smallest of ways. And Perspective Hive is how I help others change they way they do business, so that difference becomes an asset.