Brighten Home Loans wins Inclusive Employer recognition
Publication Date: Thursday, 23 October 2023
This article originally appeared in Australian Broker
Brighten Home Loans has laid out its business case for diversity and inclusion, as the non-bank lender celebrates being named an Inclusive Employer by Diversity Council Australia.
Scott Kelly (pictured above left), managing director at Brighten, emphasised that being recognised for diversity and inclusion was a natural outcome, rather than something manufactured.
“The consistent recognition as an Inclusive Employer is a testament to our dedication to fostering diversity, equality, and inclusion,” Kelly said.
“These principles are deeply embedded in our core values and have been since the firm was founded over a decade ago. They form an integral part of our corporate culture and are evident in our daily actions.”
Scaling a business with diversity in mind
Even as Brighten has doubled in size over the past three years, the non-bank has successfully retained its status as a DCA Inclusive Employer.
Brighten has maintained commendable gender equality, with women representing 61.3% of its workforce, and its cultural diversity significantly exceeds DCA benchmarks.
The non-bank’s commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace is evident in its senior leadership team’s active pursuit of the DCA Inclusive Employer certification.
This involved an anonymous survey completed by staff, which received a 75% response rate.
“This commitment showcases our dedication to continuously measuring and improving our D&I efforts,” said Kelly.
Brighten cultivates its inclusive culture not through guesswork or altruism, but by employing data-driven strategies to inform its initiatives.
“Our DCA data confirms that we exceed industry benchmarks in D&I and highlights improvement areas,” said Kelly. “One such area is our inclusive leadership training, which we plan to enhance in 2024.”
The test for cultural diversity and a multi-lingual workforce
Australia is widely regarded as one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world, with our country’s growth largely driven by immigration.
Research consistently highlights the numerous economic and social benefits that migration brings to society, including enhanced economic growth and an improved fiscal position for the government.
In the context of the lending industry, cultural competence has gained increasing importance, according to Kelly.
“The ability to communicate effectively with a diverse range of customers is now considered crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction.”
Suzanne Hutchinson (pictured above right), Brighten’s HR director, said she was delighted to find Brighten’s Australian-based staff came from 13 different cultural backgrounds and spoke 12 languages, with 52% of the workforce being multilingual.
“The diverse backgrounds of our staff have always been celebrated,” Hutchinson said.
“However, it is particularly pleasing to know that an impressive 87.6% of respondents affirmed that the group has an inclusive culture where diversity is valued and respected, surpassing the national benchmark of 71%.”
Gender diversity and pride inclusion
In what was equally important news, Brighten has reaffirmed its commitment to gender equity with over 61.3% of the team identifying as female, and 55.6% of its leadership roles held by women.
“Our gender representation aligns favourably with industry averages, we continue to invest in nurturing future female leaders,” said Kelly.
The results of the Inclusion@Work Index provide further validation of Brighten’s inclusive culture, with 89.3% of respondents confirming that their immediate supervisors genuinely support gender equality, a significant improvement over the Australian workforce benchmark of 71.3%.
Additionally, Brighten has joined Pride in Diversity, accessing valuable resources to support its LGBTQ team members better.
This collaboration guides the lenders towards AWEI accreditation, a national benchmark of workplace inclusion.
“In 2023, we achieved a significant milestone by establishing a formal Diversity and Inclusion Council,” said Hutchinson. “The Council plays a pivotal role in driving the group’s overall D&I strategy, raising awareness, and providing important education on diversity and inclusion to our team.”
How has this benefitted Brighten?
While D&I initiatives are nice to post on LinkedIn, how does it actually effect a business?
Kelly said the benefits of these initiatives were clear and impactful.
“It enhances our internal culture, promoting inclusivity and understanding among our team members,” Kelly said. “This positive internal environment extends to our external relationships, improving interactions with brokers and customers.”
“Moreover, our team’s diverse backgrounds and experiences enrich our decision-making process.”
Hutchinson said her team has observed that many perspectives contribute to more “comprehensive and thoughtful decisions” within the business.
“Our commitment to diversity and inclusion fosters a workplace where everyone feels valued and safe.,” Hutchinson said. “This not only reduces the risk of discrimination and harassment but also boosts job satisfaction and team performance.”