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Sonja

Sonja Braidner

Year of Award: 2018 Award State: New South Wales Community > Equity, Diversity And Inclusion
Emergency Services > Fire And Rescue
To improve organisational inclusion and fully leverage the diversity employed in fire agencies - Japan, USA, UK, Iceland, Germany
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Overview of Findings & Recommendations:

There were many findings resulting from my travel; some reframing EDI narratives, many highlighting best practices for EMSOs, many observations of workplace culture and; the progress and adaptation for the future of work. Below are only a few key findings. The full report is more detailed and extrapolates key finding by countries.

  • Proof the acceptance of EDI in ESMOs is greatly influenced by the socio-political and cultural contexts. EDI is at heart a political practice.
  • Inclusion needs to exist before diversity and equity can thrive.
  • EDI is best served by collaborative practice not competition.
  • Many EMSOs utilise holistic approaches creating wider, more inclusive strategic practice.
  • Proof the quality of leadership has a direct correlation on the success of an organisation’s EDI progress and the mitigation of risk and backlash.
  • EMSOs have a unique and rigid mythology of merit
  • Not having effective EDI is risky business. Implementing EDI incorrectly is as risky.
  • EDI is dangerous work when progressing practice in a hostile or immature environment.
  • EDI co-exists with its dark sibling, Backlash which prompts acts of resistance in workplaces
  • Practitioners and committed champions are at risk of burnout.
  • Priming a culture with clear messages assists successful EDI traction in an organisation.
  • Language is important. When abused through the lens of privilege it is a form of violence.
  • EDI in workplaces benefits everyone not just those who are “different”.
  • EDI progress correlates positively to enhanced community engagement and public safety outcomes for EMSOs.

Summary of Recommendations 

  • To expand and evolve EDI practice to become better interconnected with business and community expectations 
  • Create an external and independent Government monitoring body to benchmark and monitor the EDI challenges and progress for EMSOs. 
  • Establish inclusive working environments and cultures FIRST to enable authentic EDI activities and progress on a fair and equitable platform. 
  • EDI needs to be heard directly by leaders not filtered up through a prototypical hierarchy. 
  • Improve operational design at the frontline: Stations, PPE & inclusive workplace cultural design 
  • Provide Safety and Wellbeing programs supporting inclusion, psychological safety and link this to the EDI agenda within EMSOs 
  • EDI and public trust grow simultaneously for EMSOs, futureproofing the organisation and further building public safety. 

Keywords: Inclusion, equity, diversity, leadership, workplace culture, organisational development, firefighter, emergency management, response, EMDDIPA, emergency services, progress, change management, covering 

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