Date published

August 30, 2018

5 ways to promote workplace diversity

Author

Woods & Co

Many may think workplace diversity in Australia purely means ethnicity and gender. However, diversity in the workplace is quite broader than just that. It refers to differences in anything and everything, including race, religion, personality, lifestyle, skillsets, social economic status, and cultural diversity.

As the Department of Human Services defines in the Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2016-19, ‘Diversity is about our individual differences and acknowledging the unique blend of knowledge, skills and perspectives people bring to the workplace.’

In recent years, an evitable gap between what people perceive workplace diversity is and what staff members deem important. An independent research study by Survey Sampling International (SSI) used the annual data of 4800 Australian workers. Collating their age, gender, location, employment, and income, the results found:

  • 72% of Australians think experience is important in workplace diversity.
  • 54% of Australians believe education is important in workplace diversity.
  • 33% of Australians believe personality type is important in workplace diversity.

Concerningly, only 23% of Australians consider ethnicity and gender critical to diversity in the workplace in Australia.

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study reports that taking practical steps to progress a company’s staff range improves morale and company profits. Businesses should strive to be as diverse as they possibly can. The importance of diversity in the workplace is clearly undermined and leaves many feeling excluded, organisations short-skilled, and others jobless. Inclusive workspaces enable the participation of the entire team, incorporating skillsets and minds of various perspectives. A successful business needs a healthy amount of this.

Having a diverse office means plenty of benefits, as the SSI study found:

  • 58% of Australians have a more diverse experience.
  • 51% of Australians see an increase in creative thinking and problem solving.
  • 48% of Australians build better teams in a diverse environment.

What should a workplace do to promote diversity? Here are five intuitive methods to increase the diversity of any company.

Evaluate diversity in the workplace

How can diversity improve unless the issue is first identified? Administration and Human Resources teams must take the lead in auditing an organisation’s current diversity. Through this evaluation, the problem can be recognised by upper management. Businesses can start to measure the degree and importance of their current culture hinderance and begin to address the problem with various useful program, methods, and procedures.

 Recognise the value of individuality

Although it may be simpler to make decisions when deliberation is unanimous, acknowledging individual viewpoints is a worthwhile. CEOs and the like build diversity by regularly, and amenably, recognising each and everyone’s positive contributions. An employee will in result feel more inclined to meet their full potential within the organisation, serving for a powerful catalyst of growth and efficiency. By encouraging different thinking and perspectives rather than orthodox procedures, directors and managers can hearten inventive ideas in the workplace, a necessary value in a successful and diverse company.

Make a stand if something isn’t right

Too often, when there is an issue with exclusivity or discrimination in the workplace, individuals turn a blind eye. This is not only detrimental to the state of society, but harmful to the business. It discourages workers, limits capability, and hinders efficient work ethic. Staff members who witness acts of bigoted behaviour have a moral and legal obligation to report it. Leaders within the workspace must act responsibly upon accusations and have the authority to return the working environment to a hospitable and inclusive area. Explicit and even implicit unfairness at work weakens employee contributions. Everyone of all genders, backgrounds, and ages have the potential to input amazing work. Workplace diversity in Australia is substantially improved when others fight for the notion. Without any support, many would feel isolated and pained at work.

Implementing a mentorship program

Having an initially diverse workforce is ideal, however a sufficient mentorship program can be a key component in achieving suitable workplace diversity. Individuals with high potential or already established roles within the organisation should still be offered mentors. Regardless of experience, ethnicity, sex, or age, having an individual to discuss career pathways, learning opportunities, and skillsets is influential for anyone. It opens new perspectives, encourages inclusivity, and most importantly allows people to collaborate easier. If for whatever reason a mentorship initiative is not possible at a workspace, various alternative yet similar curriculums are available. LinkedIn offers a simple pen-pal type of mentorship, as do many other digital services. Additionally, less-structured professional development opportunities like continuing education, outside employee resource groups dedicated to young professionals, women’s leadership, and other culturally diverse events are feasible options. It is critical that Leadership and Human Resources teams reflect diversity as well by hiring and endorsing sundry applicants into those jobs.

Target all staff, not just management and leaders

Most Australian workplaces have diversity workplace sessions. Unfortunately, often these sessions target leaders and management of organisations. While this is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t address the underlying issue of petty discrimination. Research shows offering all staff the opportunity to partake in diversity in the workplace information and behavioural changing sessions is impressively useful. These workshops can help businesses recognise points of conflict, the resounding issue, and achieve potential solutions. In Australia, participants in similar workshops are approximately two-thirds management and the remainder are other. Undoubtedly, majority of those who attend report having properly evaluated their current collaboration processes, views, and improving workplace diversity. Through responsive strategies and short-term action steps to create a more inclusive environment, each Australian workplace can improve their cultural diversity substantially by inviting all staff to information learning sessions.

The importance of workplace diversity in Australia is consistently improved upon and many businesses can use the proposed ideas to become a diverse organisation.