In her frequent column for Virgin Unite, Jo Burston addresses some hot topics surrounding entrepreneurship globally. Here she looks at the importance of diversity on a larger scale. She explains how Rare Birds are working to inspire a powerful tribe of entrepreneurs and why diversity is an essential ingredient to that.
Diversity, an essential ingredient to entrepreneurship
Without diversity the world cannot function; without human diversification we would not exist. If we reference nature – in all its multiformity – we understand that not every animal is identical, and the world in which they revolve, operates in balance exactly because they are not.
From my observation, diversity is what makes us unique as well as what creates connectedness, change, innovation and a collectively expanded knowledge-base. This dynamism ultimately puts us in the perfect position to achieve harmony, but it is a prospect that requires positive reception and mass adoption.
The Australian working landscape is incredibly contrastive, and this type of disparity is essential to the growth and development of a country. Migrants came to Australia at the turn of the 19th century, post English settlement. By no means are the English the custodians of Australia as our indigenous peoples are, but migrants make up a large percentage of our population, from across the world. The Chinese, Greeks, Italians and Eastern Europeans became key drivers in building our country.
Today, migrant self-employment in Australia actually exceeds that of native self-employment, weighing in at 18.8 per cent of the workforce as opposed to 16.3 per cent for natives*. The richness of this diversity, in particular cultural diversity, makes for a better country and a better workforce. It also breeds entrepreneurship by fostering the conditions for a more dynamic entrepreneurial environment.
Age, culture, country of birth and gender are all elements we embrace at Rare Birds. We serve a tribe of aspiring and current women entrepreneurs that come from incredibly diverse backgrounds. Our luminaries are both male and female – their age is irrelevant to us. How much you have is irrelevant – what is of greater concern, is impact and influence, and how this type of diversification creates better outcomes for us collectively.
At Rare Birds, we are locally and globally focused on achieving positive diversity, particularly by encouraging and supporting women to become an entrepreneur by choice. Of our 50 Rare Birds recently published in our book ‘Australia’s 50 Influential Women Entrepreneurs’, eight of them are migrants and six of them come from migrant backgrounds. We celebrate all entrepreneurs – men and women, emerging and serial – as we truly see and believe that entrepreneurs create jobs and influence innovation and change, while seeing the zeitgeist of the future. Most importantly, we recognise that entrepreneurs fix problems and often do so in extreme adversity.
So, through the various lenses of diversification, we can see the positive effect of ‘difference’ and the power it has to provoke unique thoughts and opinions, create solutions, invoke change to stimulate growth and its overall ability to contribute to our intellectual economy.
The real success is found when we marry diversity with personal awareness, acceptance, open heartedness and connectedness. After this the personal responsibility is practice and commitment.
Finally, I believe the world will function at its highest when this cultural process occurs organically. We will no longer have to talk about diversity as a concentrated topic. In this we see positive reception and mass adoption on a global scale. Perhaps it is altruistic, however I see the influence and impact Rare Birds creates through active practice of diversity and it is certainly enough to make me want the world to join in.
*OECD (2010), “Entrepreneurship and Migrants”, Report by the OECD Working Party on SMEs and Entrepreneurship, OECD.