How to change tomorrow’s bad workplace culture, today

Tomorrow’s workplace culture issues can be addressed in today’s daycare centres – while today’s issues need to be addressed via workplace education.

That’s the recipe for both prevention and cure proposed by Professor Catharine Lumby, who recently returned to the University of Sydney as Professor of Media, when she was interviewed by the University’s Culture Strategy Director, Professor Tim Soutphommasane.

“As children the first two things we notice about people are gender and race,” said Professor Lumby. “What we should be learning very young is that everyone’s human and everyone has human rights.”

“When my children were in daycare what I told them was they’d want to play with someone else’s toy, occasionally, but they had to ask – and just because someone said “Yes”, it didn’t mean that you could play with it indefinitely, break it or take it home.”

Professor Soutphommasane, who is also Professor of Practice (Sociology and Political Theory), asked about conversations at work with colleagues – “What can you do if you encounter forms of culture that can be improved?”

“Education matters in workplaces – ongoing education – where you give people an opportunity to think through and talk about how they would resolve a situation,” said Professor Lumby.  “Often people want to do the right thing but they just don’t know what to say or how to do it. Even grown-ups need that kind of ongoing help to do the right thing.”

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