29 March 2017

How Walt Disney drives innovation through diversity

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The Walt Disney Company has adopted a unique approach to engaging a multi-generational workforce with a view to boosting innovation, fostering employee engagement and improving talent management, according to the company’s local head of HR.
Walt Disney has a number of programs in place globally, such as internships and reverse mentoring, which assist in catering to the needs of a multi-generational workforce, said Toby List, head of HR, Australia & New Zealand for The Walt Disney Company.
Locally, he said the company offers programs, forums and opportunities that encourage a diversity of perspectives for employees across generations to come together, share and thrive. 
“What all of these programs have in common is that they are open to all staff, regardless of level and role, and therefore tap into the full diversity (including generational) of our workforce and provide opportunities and development to all those involved,” he said.
Diversity and innovation go hand-in-hand in Walt Disney, according to List, who said the company is “wonderfully diverse” and in the local market alone it has TV channels, TV content, movies, live stage shows, consumer products and digital. “This diversity is stimulating but can also create complexity,” he said.
“So as we assess talent, we value the ability to look at things through our consumers’ eyes, to see connections across the business, and to collaborate at an advanced level in order to deliver results. “For these reasons, we value staff and leaders who have a diversity of experience, meaning that we actively seek to bring about lateral moves and promote from within where we have opportunities.”
The business also supports this through programs which enable staff to collaborate across departments on shared challenges and through other programs such as job shadowing and mentoring. 

List said the appointment of Kylie Watson-Wheeler as MD in June 2016 is evidence of the value placed on lateral experience; as Kylie previously held roles across four different business areas before being appointed. HR also plays an important role in the above strategies as “co-authors, sponsors and facilitators”, said List. “The ‘co’ is important to emphasise as the programs have objectives which are both developmental for our staff but also of ultimate and direct commercial value to the company,” he said.
Want more on how to instill diversity and inclusion as part of your company's core business model? Don't miss the National Diversity & Inclusion for Business Growth Forum being held in Sydney just next week!
Hear from key speakers from across Australia and the globe, such as: Tisa Jackson, Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Microsoft (USA), Jane Hill, People and Culture Director at Lion, Ronan Carolan, Head of HR for Consumer at Optus, Jacqueline Minney, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Aboriginal Affairs at Laing O'Rourke, and plenty others.
Written by: Nicolas Verbeeck
Nicolas was born in Belgium and became an expert in consuming excellent beers, chocolate and waffles. During the winter period you can find him on a hockey pitch and in summer he loves to go for a swim or a surf. In 2013 Nicolas was wondering what the beers, chocolate and waffles would taste like in Australia and never came back. One reason… the weather. Nicolas obtained a masters in International Politics and tries to use this background to produce excellent conferences at Akolade.

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