Learning from millennials is critical for business growth, according to Wendy Lenton, group executive, people and culture at nib health funds.
“I’m such a strong supporter of diversity” she said. “I lead it and I drive it but there’s still so much I don’t know. The more we learn from those young people, the better.
“They’re the voice of our future and I’m so inspired when I see young people standing up for what they believe,” she added. “It’s so important to think about how we can give them a platform to make sure they have a voice in our businesses.” Lenton is working to develop new social enterprises such as driving sustainability, which she hopes will attract young talent to hib.
Lenton’s experience has spanned diverse firms including Commonwealth Bank of Australia where she worked as an I.T. manager, AMP Financial Services, Vodafone and George Weston Foods. She also ran her own H.R. consultancy for two years before coming to nib where she specialises in building a strong people culture. Striving to encourage diversity has been a passion at all of her places of employment.
“Diversity drives motivation and better outcomes,” she explained.
Lenton reflected on her earlier work at another insurance company at which most of the advisors were men, despite the fact that women were predominantly the household decision-makers.
“It’s really important to be at a firm that’s progressive and then try to shift the bar as there will always be opportunities” said Lenton, adding that it is essential to understand bias in business so we can work to combat it.
One of the turning points in her career came when Lenton first returned to work after three months’ maternity leave in 1999 and was immediately offered a promotion to a director’s role.
“I was dumb-struck thinking ‘how am I going to do it?’ but I told myself to give it a go, and it was just a fantastic experience,” she said.
Lenton’s advice to young people starting out in the business world: “Have the courage to be vulnerable and to be yourself.”