CEDA’s EPO21: What does leadership look like in the new economy?

Fisher Leadership was proud to partner with CEDA at the Victorian Trustees event as part of their two-day Economic and Political Outlook (EPO) 2021. The event this week featured CEDA’s Chief Economist Jarrod Ball, and later in the program, headlined with Australia’s Ambassador to the United States, The Hon. Arthur Sinodinos. A range of thought leaders across the country shared insights on the important issues facing Australia. 

You can download CEDA’s EPO 2021 Report here

However, as a firm working with executives to build solutions every day, we thought we’d share our predictions and takeaways for what we as leaders can be doing to positively impact tomorrow, today

Diversity and inclusion: Rising inequality 

Look around your leadership table, your workplace, your community and ask, do I see a range of people with different backgrounds, ways of thinking, belief systems and experiences? If not, who’s missing? And if so, are their differences valued? 

As we deal with ever-more complex problems, diversity and inclusion in leadership teams is becoming a must. Globally, as we watch Biden put together his cabinet, and closer to home, Jacinda Ardern consolidate her team, we can see that the “value of difference” is becoming synonymous with great leadership. A recent US survey showed the increase in importance of D&I for employers. Moving from 5th to 2nd during COVID-19, sitting only behind meaningful employee development (PwC Pulse Survey).  

New forms of discrimination 

“As hybrid working models continue to evolve, new forms of discrimination are forming. There is already a tension from workers who aren’t afforded as much flexibility as those that are.” 

Paula McCabe, Gig Executive Client Solutions Manager

Flexible flaws

Driving the Gig Executive practice, Paula McCabe is more attuned to the upside of flexibility than most. The Women’s Agenda last year surveyed women’s attitudinal changes about their career, finding that unsurprisingly 3 in 4 women indicate flexible and remote working opportunities are more important to them now.

However, unconscious bias could also play out in favour of those in the office over individuals working from home. Kristen Hilton, of the Victorian Opportunity and Human Rights Commission says ““We need to start moving away from the idea that being at work from 9-5 means you are the most productive worker.Some of the most productive and engaged people are the ones working in a part time capacity.” (Women’s Agenda 2020

Every day we ask the leaders we work with: who is missing from your leadership table? It takes cognitive diversity and social diversity combined with an inclusive culture, to better solve the challenges we face. It’s no longer enough to make a difference, we need to create the difference. 

Sustainability: Climate change and supply chains 

For society and the environment is being driven by the international business community. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust has significantly declined worldwide, however people are looking for leadership and solutions beyond authoritative talking heads who they don’t believe are credible. Business in fact, is not only the most trusted institution among the four studied by Edelman, but it is also the only trusted institution with a 61 percent trust level globally, and the only institution seen as both ethical and competent (Edelman Trust Barometer 2021). How are Australian businesses leading, collaborating, and cooperating on a more equitable future? 

Speaking at the EPO, Nicki Hutley, Partner at Deloitte Access Economics says we are focusing too much on the silver lining rather than the grey cloud. She warns of the dangers of ‘short-termism’ in place of long-term sustainable reform. Nicki references our policy gaps on climate change, childcare, welfare, and affordable housing.  Nicki says people will go back to significant disadvantage, when JobKeeper ends, noting that house prices have increased, rather than decreased as expected through economic downturn. She argues for a focus on supporting those long-term initiatives such as clean energy infrastructure, investment in regions that have manufacturing capability, diversifying the economy in ways that will have long-term impact on (un)employment when JobKeeper ends. 

Speaking on the panel at CEDA’s Economic and Political Outlook, Alan Oster, Group Chief Economist at NAB notes that while business customer confidence is increasing in banking sector, he believes business investment is still constrained, predicting a slow March quarter and accelerating in June. With GDP up 4% this year, and unemployment set to pull back to 6% during the year, it won’t be until 2024-2025 that we return to our long-term growth rates. 

There will be more jobs 

Paula believes unemployment will drop as we see a renewed focus on local supply chains, like manufacturing. “As immigration forces a pause on skilled migration”, comments Paula, “companies will continue to reskill and redeploy local workers.” 

The talent pool will increase…  

Paula is already seeing the trend whereby more remote work opportunities mean location is becoming less of a deciding factor in hiring. “Rather than just looking locally, organisations will be more inclined to search interstate and beyond as international expertise becomes a viable source to tap into.” 

Future Skills: Intersecting business, education and government 

As the widening talent mismatch continues to make headlines, and with further economic uncertainty, (particularly as JobKeeper ends this quarter) upskilling, reskilling, and transferring skills are top of mind for employers and employees alike. 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, as adoption of technology increases, according the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report. 50%! And from what we see, businesses, governments and institutions do not have a solid plan in place for this transition. (WEF, Future Jobs Report) We know that these new skills will need to be learnt on the job, because the world of change is not slowing down folks – and neither are we. 

What does this all mean? It means we need organisations like CEDA more than ever. No one segment of society can tackle these challenges successfully alone. What’s called for is collaboration, critical thinking, active listening and intentional learning. 

What an interesting time we live in, a time of great change. And a great time to make change. 

At Fisher Leadership we are at the frontline, building solutions for leaders, their teams and their organisations each day, across Australia and throughout the APAC region. Please reach out to us to discuss our solutions for a range of leadership solutions to sustain competitiveness in our changing world: info@fisherleadership.com 

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