Successful and multinational, T2 is truly a local success story. The company’s Global Director, People, chats with Jobsbank about meaningful diversity and inclusion, and how to make it work for business.
Anyone who’s grown up among piles of folded linen, boxed fruit, motorcycle parts or a family business will know that the rhythms of a work ethic are instilled at an early age. For Georgegina Poulos, it was working the floor and dispensing styling tips in her mother’s fashion boutique while still in primary school.
“At 10 years old, you’re super-confident, but you’re not really managing customer service that well,” she laughs. “Still, it was a great introduction to the customer facing environment.”
Georgi, as she’s known to her many friends, was lucky to be able to spend her teenage years improving her pitch, managing her mother’s business and, eventually, a motel and restaurant as well. Combine hard work from a young age with a supportive environment, and this young professional was able to craft her own dream career.
Now, as Global Director People at international tea brand, T2, it’s Georgi’s responsibility to ensure everyone – particularly team members facing barriers – receives access to the kind of opportunities she was given by her parents.
At T2, Georgi has been part of a radical overhaul of the company’s diversity and inclusion program. Over four years, the company (which is now part of ekaterra, an independent subsidiary of Unilever) is well on its way to a remarkable achievement: establishing 100 percent sustainably-sourced ingredients.
The next steps are even more ambitious. Alongside her colleagues in T2’s leadership team, Georgi felt the need to make some decisions about the fundamental nature of the business.
“In 2019, when we started our diversity and inclusion journey, we made a conscious decision that we didn’t just want to be productive, we wanted to be purposeful,” Georgi explains. “Then we had to understand what purposeful meant for our business”.
In search of answers, T2 looked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to identify real, actionable targets that cover justice, peace and our environment.
Instead of targeting all 17 UN goals, T2 selected eight areas in which the organisation could make the biggest impact: quality education, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life on land, and partnerships.
By having an explicit framework for action, T2 was able not just to set targets, but develop a new set of questions and processes to lead material change.
“At one point, the rationale we had for any product was that it was either beautiful, on trend, we really wanted to do it, or it could sell,” Georgi recalls.
“But now we’re asking, is it sustainable? How is it sourced? You know, can it be recycled? There’s all these other criteria influencing our decision making. In some cases, we say no to things that may make good business sense, because it doesn’t meet that criteria.”
While Georgi and her colleagues at T2 have made enormous strides toward climate action and responsible consumption, she believes the next few years are likely to be spent concentrating on enabling education, accessibility, and diversity.
“We’ve created some really good mechanisms to help us nut-out where a block might be,” Georgi says. “The majority of our workforce are under 35 and much more open about social issues, mental health issues, they’re a much more community-minded bunch than my generation.”
While Georgi has a wealth of in-house resources dedicated to D&I, T2 has been working with Jobsbank to develop better information and reporting mechanisms, and to create stronger relationships with partner organisations.
“It just felt like a great partnership to help us to navigate change – a real partnership where we could also add value and share our knowledge; it’s a way of giving back,” says Georgi. “This piece around inclusive employment is key for us. How can we create an environment where people feel safe enough to come to work as their whole selves, as well as attract diverse talent? I think it’s going to be awesome.”
T2 is a brand with over 100 stores globally in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore. As a certified B Corporation, Australia’s favourite tea is part of a global community that puts people and planet first – by reducing inequality, lowering levels of poverty, creating healthier environments, building stronger communities and imbuing jobs with dignity and purpose. Read more about T2’s impact here.
At Jobsbank we are passionate about inclusion and the difference it makes – not just to one person, but to teams and whole organisations. We believe in an Australia where everybody belongs. That’s why we’re helping to build more inclusive workplaces one business at time.
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