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Margit Mansfield – 2021 in Review

Margit Mansfield is a Senior Consultant for Keogh. Born and raised in Africa but based in Perth for the last 20 years, she's passionate about encouraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace — essential to creating a thriving culture and the benefits that accompany it


Looking back over the year that was, Margit shares her insights on the importance of ESG and outlines the four critical areas leaders need to focus on through these times of rapid change.

Describe the most important lesson you learned this year?

I’ve reaffirmed that I need human contact and connection to spark my creativity. Working from home suits me when I need to spend time on a task uninterrupted, but my best ideas come from talking to real people in real time.

Many big declarations are being made about hybrid working, working from home, and offices being a thing of the past. However, I can see remote working continuing to offer greater choice and flexibility, perhaps a more productive space for some (not all) and enabling a wider net for attracting talent, including from areas where opportunities have traditionally been low.

I’m intrigued to see how remote working will play out and the realm of the metaverse. Mesh, for MS Teams, is just one element of that. Microsoft has been using it to onboard people because they obviously can’t physically get people into their offices.

Hybrid working seems like it offers the best of both worlds, but I don’t think anybody knows what the magic formula is yet. Can virtual spaces match the dynamism of interaction in the physical world? I’m not so sure that the entirety of the human experience can be turned into zeroes and ones. I believe that physical workspaces will continue, but they will change dramatically and be used differently. We should always be experimenting.

For more on managing the hybrid model, see How to manage the hybrid workplace.

Beyond COVID, what is the big event in 2021 that’s impacted a particular industry?

COP26 did not achieve everything it set out to do, but fossil fuel industries are being further demonised; their pressure to change their profit model will only continue to increase.

All businesses are considering what commitments around ESG will mean for them. It’s no longer a nice-to-have, and while I do not doubt that a certain amount of greenwashing will continue, shareholders will vote with their money. Policymakers will continue to make bad behaviour less and less viable. If they’re not already, businesses will need to look at their own models and how they fit within the five P’s that underpin the UN SDGs: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.

The other significant shift has been the attitudes around and coverage of sexual harassment — notably in parliament and the mining industry; Brittany Higgins is just one name of many that have suffered under a culture that devalues women. Systemic harassment and discrimination in male-dominated industries, in particular, requires leaders to lift their game and lead by example.

Diversity targets help people be what they can see, such as the move to ensure no more all-male boards on ASX. There’s still a long way to go, however. For example, one-third of these boards have less than 30% women.

What’s something you’ve seen through Keogh that’s impressed you this year?

We recently visited a potential client’s operations in the large-scale commercial catering space. They produce 400,000 meals a month, so you might imagine the potential food wastage that could happen, use of plastics, paper and so on. But we were delighted to see their commitment to sustainability — they’re committed to recycling and reducing their impact on the environment. Unserved left-over meals go to charity, and they’re using as many environmentally friendly or sustainable products and processes as they can.

Honestly, the number of coloured ‘waste’ bins they had was astonishing, as well as the people hard at work separating products and recycling as much as they could. The company director even had a sustainable plastic product prototype delivered to their office that day to assess for use, which they were investigating long before any of the legislation on single-use plastics.

What are the top skills for leaders to work on in 2022?

I believe leaders need to step into four key roles: Catalyst, Coach, Connector, and Navigator.

While they all intersect, we’d suggest working on one at a time, perhaps one for each quarter of 2022, starting with what’s most beneficial for your team first. So, for example, if your team is going through massive change at the moment, focus on the Navigator piece because there’s some uncertainty; they’ll need a lot of clarity around where they’re going.

Or, if you’re reinventing your business, or wanting to focus on developing a new product, then you’re going into Catalyst mode. Maybe you’ve recognised that you’re not leveraging the diverse experience within the business, so focus more on the Connector piece.

Tell us about the activities that nurtured each quadrant of the Keogh Wisdom Wheel.

First, on the TQ (Technical Quotient) side, I have finally signed up for the Australian Institute of Company Directors Flagstone course. Many of the subjects are way beyond my comfort zone, so I think they will stretch and challenge me.
In the SQ (Spiritual Quotient) space, I continue to be a pro-bono coach to some amazing women across the world on the Homeward Bound program.

I am passionate about promoting women in leadership roles and particularly in STEMM, so it’s a real privilege to be part of this story. Not only this but the women I coach teach me heaps about myself. That is where the EQ development comes in.

My PQ (Physical Quotient) has had focused attention. I’ve started lifting heavy (at least for me) weights. I’ve always been intimidated by “serious” gyms – the ones where the only equipment is weight racks, dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls, and those mirrors with people gawking at themselves.

But for the past year, I have been attending a group class three times each week; bench presses, back squats, deadlifts, ball slams. It may not be a significant achievement for some, but it is for me; I’ve never thought much of my physicality. I swam competitively as a kid and dance a lot now, but that’s about it. I feel better and stronger. And yes, the weights are still tiny compared to what Schwartzengger might lift — but I am improving slowly.

Can you give us a sneak peek of anything planned for launch in 2022?

We’ll be launching our very own measurement tool for organisational culture. While we have deep expertise in building high-performing cultures, Keogh has never had our tool to measure the current state or objectively assess our progress. We have always used tools built by other providers but felt they never really hit the mark for us. So we set about building our own — and after two years of research and testing, the launch date is imminent, which is exciting!