Encouraging diversity in the workplace
If you happen to tune into your local news station around a topic of diversity or multiculturalism, you’re more than likely to pick up a political sound bite about how well Australia does diversity. Despite the general population’s growing skepticism about our politicians, there is truth in this belief. In fact, it tends to be one of the first impressions tourists get especially when visiting the capital cities. It’s hard to ignore from a factual perspective as well: the last Census revealed that almost half (49 per cent) of Australians had either been born overseas (first generation Australian) or one or both parents had been born overseas (second generation Australian). In 2016, there were over 300 separately identified languages spoken in Australian homes. More than one-fifth (21 per cent) of Australians spoke a language other than English at home. After English, the next most common languages spoken at home were Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, and Vietnamese (2016 Australian Census).
While a nation can readily take credit for a society’s level of multiculturalism, the success of it lies within the everyday community. Be it at work or social level, our daily routines and social connections play a crucial role in building acceptance and integration. Given a majority of people spend a fair amount of their time at work, the organisation plays a crucial role in fostering diversity.
Encourage diversity in the workplace by doing the following:
Lead from the top
Organisations need to exhibit the values of diversity and inclusion, not just “talk the talk”. Leaders and managers should display their value for diversity through their actions and behaviour. A company that supports multiculturalism at the leadership level will find it easier to implement a culture that is accepting of individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Build a culture of acceptance
Implementing a zero tolerance policy towards discrimination is a key to building a culture of acceptance. Discrimination based on language, appearance, religion or sexuality while unlawful, can also lead to an undesirable workplace. Highlighting anti-discrimination policies during new staff induction helps to bring about a workplace culture that values acceptance. Mandatory cross-cultural learning or team building exercises can break down unconscious bias and barriers to diversity by educating and informing staff about different cultures.
Encouraging cultural diversity in your organisation can result in many great benefits. Not only will your staff display a diverse array of skills, but their knowledge and experience will open new opportunities for the organisation through reaching new markets, greater productivity and promoting a strong brand for the company.
While it’s great to acknowledge multiculturalism during diversity week, it’s equally important to remember that “diversity is one thing we all have in common” and it’s worth celebrating every day!