For Australians, the start of July not only marks our mid-winter but also – and much more importantly – NAIDOC Week, which includes lots of events and activities to recognise and learn about First Nations cultures and histories, and participate in celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth.
NAIDOC Week always makes me stop and think. Amidst the buzz and tumult of everyday life at work and home, it’s all too easy to forget the bigger picture. To overlook the unwelcome fact that even today, to be a member of a First Nations community can be difficult, with misinformation and misunderstandings all too often dominating the discourse.
It also got me thinking about the broader importance of inclusion. Why it is so vital. Why we must not look away from injustice. Why businesses benefit – heck, why we all benefit – from breaking down barriers and bringing people together. With that in mind, here are five reasons why inclusion should always be a priority.

1. Valuing values

The best organisations are those which have the right values. We want employees to see the person first and their ethnicity and background second. We want an organisation brimming with empathy and understanding, enriched by the different perspectives and experiences of everyone who works here. All this demands inclusion.

2. Diversity is not enough

Diversity is about ensuring a workforce contains the full range of demographic differences, but inclusion relates to how those employees feel. In other words it’s about a sense of belonging – inclusion means that every employee feels valued, equal and integrated into decision-making.

3. Business performance improves

Having a mixed community offers a diversity of perspectives, approaches and thinking that contribute towards improved performance. Diverse teams help encourage innovation and new ways of problem solving. And in practical terms, BAE Systems has a substantial presence across Australia and so it is really important to better understand our clients and needs of our regional workforce.

4. Changing times demand changing skills Focusing on our First Nations People blog image

We’re just emerging from a – hopefully – once in our lifetime pandemic. There was no playbook. It needed everyone to step up and perform with their full range of skills. Hiring and including people from different backgrounds is vital as everyone has different skills that can help strengthen any organisation – public or private sector.

5. It’s simply the right thing to do

Inclusion is not just about the number of different hires, participation in workshops or webinars. No, the true measure is something less tangible, yet no less real. It’s that feeling, that knowledge and comfort, that the organisation you work for is open to everyone, regardless of race, colour or creed. This, for me is, what inclusion is really all about.
These reasons all help explain why NAIDOC Week is so important and it’s why I take huge solace in the knowledge that BAE Systems takes these issues so seriously. Our Reconciliation Action Plan sets out our proposals for increasing the number of First Nations employees at BAE Systems Australia, and forming sustainable relationships with First Nations businesses.
But there is always more that can be done.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. What do you think about inclusion? What else can we at BAE Systems could be focusing on?
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch – my email is below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Contact the author

Annette Costello

Head of Consulting Australia, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence