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To become a leading Australian workplace, organisations must go beyond gender equality initiatives to embrace and celebrate the rich diversity of their workforce to create a culture of inclusion and belonging.
That’s the message from Reverend Lin Surch, CEO of Beyond Gender, who joined a panel of leading experts at QSuper’s first She’s on Q event for 2021 on 25 March. The event took a deep dive into this year’s International Women’s Day theme #ChooseToChallenge.
Lin Surch launched Beyond Gender, a global workplace inclusion and belonging program, in March 2018.
“I’ve been working in the area of diversity and inclusion for the past 10 years and have been
witness to and part of significant progress in this space during this time,” Rev. Lin said.
“Building Beyond Gender was a no-brainer for me as I’d been consulting and training workplaces
in diversity and inclusion for many years.
“I entered Interfaith (Multifaith) Seminary in late 2017 knowing that I would use my ministry for workplace
inclusion. By fusing my experience in diversity leadership, consulting and training with what I learnt at
the seminary, I was able to bring Interfaith Inclusion @Work to Australian workplaces who want to take their
cultural inclusion initiatives to the next level.
“In our first three years, Beyond Gender has experienced significant growth as a business with the
ongoing expansion of our offerings. We now specialise in LGBTQ+ inclusion @Work, Interfaith Inclusion @Work,
AccessAbility @Work, Belonging & Wellbeing @Work and workplace Pastoral Care.”
Rev. Lin said while she initially focused on LGBTQ+ inclusion, with a focus on trans and gender
diversity, by the end of Beyond Gender’s second year she had launched the Interfaith arm of her
“Interfaith is an open discussion between people of all faiths and non-faith spiritual pathways-
giving everyone a seat at the same table to be heard and valued,” she said.
“I’ve certainly been witness to great change over the years, although there is still much work
to do. That’s the beauty of diversity, inclusion and belonging; the work does not stop, it grows and
evolves like businesses do.
“As a result of spending the last year guiding organisations through COVID-19 and new ways of
working, our focus has been on reframing resilience and building truly inclusive leaders in our ‘new
Rev. Lin says it is important when discussing inequality at work that we begin to move beyond binary
“If we are going to evolve, it is important that we stop thinking about things in a binary
way,” she said.
More and more organisations now realise that inclusion initiatives that focus on “gender
diversity” are not just for cisgender males* and cisgender females*.
*Cisgender (adj.): A term used to describe when a person’s gender identity
matches the social expectations for their sex assigned at birth; sometimes referred to as different to transgender.
“We are all diverse. We each have a body, a gender identity, a sexual orientation, a cultural
identity, a spiritual identity, whatever that may be,” Rev. Lin said.
“Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice, and belonging is where it’s at. It is great to see
so many organisations having these conversations and doing this work for their people. The research shows us
that inclusion and belonging initiatives at work, when well executed and maintained, result in better
Rev. Lin said that for a long time, Australian organisations had thought about diversity as a
“It was the whole ‘we’ll focus on one thing at a time, we don’t have the resources
to do more than that’ situation. But if we weigh up the benefits of investing in a ‘whole of
business’ approach to inclusion with the right consultant, it has been proven that no one needs to be
left behind,” she said.
“When we think about the LGBTQ+ inclusion space at work, we have seen significant progress over the
past decade, which is fantastic to see and be a part of.”
“But then we look at the cultural and interfaith inclusion space in Australian workplaces, it is
still very new. There is real opportunity for businesses now to take their diversity and inclusion (D&I)
strategies to the next level.”
Rev. Lin said despite decades of culture change, improved policies and procedures addressing issues
like bullying, harassment and inequality, covert issues still exist.
“Building inclusive leadership behaviours across organisations and making D&I practices part of
an organisation’s DNA is critical. This work has never been about and should never be about something
that just sits with D&I or HR, or even a few passionate employees across the business. Everyone has a
role to play.”
“At the end of the day, we are the change. It’s that old Gandhi statement, ‘Be the change
you wish to see in the world’,” she said.
“It takes one person to start the conversation. Be that person.”
Rev. Lin said her challenge for this year is to remain mindful that post a period of isolation and
remote working, she is vigilantly checking in with her networks.
“One of the opportunities we have now, and one of the blessings of 2020, is we are able to reach out
and connect globally – in some ways more than ever before,” she said.
“I choose to continue to be mindful to never leave anyone behind.”
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The opinions expressed and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Trustee. No responsibility is taken for the accuracy of any of the information supplied and you should seek advice for your circumstances.