Sean Lawe: Diversity Champion

Tell us a little bit about you…. 

A husband a father and in turn a committed Operations professional with years of international experience at board level in the business world.   

Why is diversity important to you? 

Diversity is challenging and therefore exciting. I have been incredibly fortunate during my career to work with a supremely diverse group of people.  Women, Men, different races, different sexualities and different nationalities.  This is important to me as quite frankly it’s made me a better individual and it’s certainly made me better in the workplace.  

What benefits does diversity bring? 

There are so many but to call out just a few.  Diversity of thinking is so important. Individually I think we are programmed to surround ourselves with likeminded people. If you do that it’s easy to relax. Everyone thinks the same. Bring diverse thinking to the group and in my experience it’s like an explosion of creativity.   It challenges problems, brings new ideas and therefore solutions to the table and results in a more productive workplace environment. 

What challenges do you face when you try to be more diverse? 

Diversity can at times lead to uncomfortableness.  I’m a firm believer that setting targets to achieve diversity doesn’t work.  Quota’s or the like I think are a little insulting to the individuals targeted.  What I believe works better is to ensure we create environments and cultures that ‘allow’ diversity to proposer.  That means regular check ins on the situation you are in and learning how to spot whether any Individual’s are not in a secure place where they feel valued and safe to express different views. 

Have you ever experienced a time when you’ve felt excluded or different? 

Definitely, especially at moments during my early career.  Whilst the current world is not perfect from a workplace environment situations have improved dramatically.  The world of work for almost everyone was a very different place in the 80’s and 90’s and I’m pretty certain everybody at some point would have experienced some form of exclusion in that time. 

What can we do better as an organisation / industry to be more diverse? 

How are you trying to positively influence diversity? 

Being conscious about decisions, language and looking for positive affirmation are just some of the things we can all do to create situations where diversity works. 

What can organisations’ do to be more diverse and inclusive? 

Education is important as is making sure we create environments and events where we can discuss what we can all do better.  Unconscious bias exists in all of us no matter our culture, background or any variance that makes us different.  Talking about them, understanding them will not make everything change overnight but the more discussion we can safely have the better the situation will become. 

How do you address difficult conversations with male and female colleagues about diversity? 

 As with everything I try to approach all that I do from an honest place.  Disagreement is natural but when any individual male or female is treated honestly, I think there is a fighting chance to effect change even if the conversations is difficult.   

What positive female role models have you had in your career / life and how have they shaped you? 

I believe myself to be very fortunate as I have seen close up the positive affect of females in my life.  I had a great childhood supported by a wonderful Mum.  In adult life I’ve worked with some very talented females who have often improved my thinking and made be better at what I do.   I’m very lucky to have a great wife who is independent, confident and definitely at times challenging of my thoughts and actions which I value immensely.

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