Caption (L-R): Andrew Hart, Dave Gibbons, Michael Wilson, Paul Fallon and Kierran Downham.

By Keirran Downham

Why did you go into business?

Every business owner has taken risks, worked long hours and developed opportunities to create a better life – whether for share-holders, themselves, or their family.

Operating on an island that has limited population growth means we have to be more innovative, flexible, determined and passionate to make our businesses financially viable and create longevity.

Still, many Tasmanian companies have gone on to become national institutions. David Walsh’s MONA is a case in point.

Whilst we can claim success in business leadership, our community values are at astonishing lows.

Tasmania has the highest rate of domestic violence nationally.  One in three women, by the age of 50, will be impacted by violence – physical, sexual or other.

Police attend over 5500 incidences per annum.  Women’s shelters and support services are inundated and overwhelmed by this growing trend.

Thankfully the Tasmanian Government, and every state and territory counterpart, has implemented cultural values for their organisations to ensure the protection and support of their staff and families.

These values have been implemented through White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation.

It’s now been rolled out to over 600,000 employees nationally.  The program challenges organisational values, ensuring gender equity and fairness sits at the core of all business practices.  Gender inequity is at the heart of all violence against women.

How will this help?

It’s no different to how, over a generation, we have changed our views on and practices for the environment.

I remember when most houses had a backyard incinerator and we would burn our rubbish, occasionally throwing a tyre on the backyard bonfire.

In the late 80’s/early 90’s the government realised this was having a hugely detrimental effect on the environment.  It wasn’t sustainable so they changed their own internal values.

They started recycling, and implemented responsible use of energy. Changing government practices brought about positive change protecting the environment.

Private industry was required to adhere to the same values in order to win government business.   Two decades later we all follow suit.

Tasmania’s now the clean, green envy of Australia.

We have developed some of the strongest environmental rules and regulations nationally.  Our public smoking laws are some of the toughest in the world.

It’s so refreshing to see the Tasmanian government inwardly reflecting on community standards to bring about positive change for our children and grandchildren.

I believe their current process and stewardship on violence will bring about much needed change. History tells us this works.  Imagine if they mandate that all private businesses share the same values. I’m sure the private enterprise community would see the value in this.

In 2017 I took my companies through the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation program. It is one of the best business decisions I have ever made.

We have a responsibility to provide leadership within our communities.  We have freedom to implement change faster and more efficiently than government agencies, so why are we waiting? The 23rd of November is White Ribbon Day.  What better time to start?  Join me.

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Keirran Downham is Managing Director Fuji Xerox Business Centre Tasmania, The Print Division and Acrodata.  Keirran is a White Ribbon Ambassador and sits on the board of The Hobart Women’s Shelter.