Diversity in the workplace means the acceptance and inclusion of employees of all backgrounds. A diverse workplace is an important asset, since it acknowledges the individual strengths of each employee and the potential they bring. Valuing the differences of others is what ultimately brings us all together and can be the secret to a successful, thriving workplace and a fair work culture.
What is workplace diversity?
Workplace diversity means respecting and valuing the skills and differences that each staff member brings into the workspace. A diverse workplace is an inclusive environment that provides equal rights and opportunities for all workers, regardless of gender, colour, age, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and so on.
In Australia, it is law for workplaces to provide equal opportunity to their employees, as well as to create a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. Employers are responsible for putting measures into place to overcome employment disadvantage and discrimination in the workplace. This includes valuing workplace diversity and ensuring that a workplace is free from racial and sexual harassment, discrimination, and bullying.
Types of workplace diversity
It’s important to recognise the types of diversity and to provide ways to ensure that you as a workplace, employer, or employee are contributing toward a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Employing staff with barriers to employment and treating them fairly is one of the ways employers can attract a more diverse workplace and diversify the skill sets within a workplace.
There are now funding and incentive schemes in place to encourage businesses to support people with a disability, Indigenous Australians, mature-aged people, and those who have been in long-term unemployment. Here are some tips to help create a more diverse workplace:
- Discuss diversity with your employees and outline the benefits of a diverse workplace.
- Identify and address any bias when it comes to the recruitment process. Have hiring managers be aware of the qualities and benefits applicants of varying backgrounds can bring to the company and ensure they are allowing for a fair hiring process. Let applicants know that you are an equal-rights employer.
- Value the individual skills that employees bring and make sure to utilize these strengths to help broaden your market and grow your company.
Allow for flexible work options and provide the opportunity for parental leave for both women and men.
- Create and implement your own Workplace Diversity Plan (see the ACMA Diversity Plan as an example) for employees to become familiar with practising diversity and inclusiveness within the workplace.
Benefits of workplace diversity
Having a diverse and multicultural workplace brings several advantages. Since today’s world is increasingly more globalised and interconnected, workplaces should take advantage of the diverse range of skills individuals from different backgrounds and languages can bring. The top five benefits of workplace diversity include:
- Increased productivity: A diverse workplace allows for more ideas and processes. This diversity of talent means a broader range of skills among employees, as well as a diversity of experiences and perspectives which increases the potential for increased productivity
- Increased creativity: As various cultures and backgrounds work together, the opportunity for increased creativity exists. This is because there are more people with differing perspectives and solutions to problems, allowing for a greater chance of a workable solution to a workplace problem.
- Improved cultural awareness: A diverse range of cultures within the workplace allows companies to deal with the different nuances within a global marketplace. If a company does business with China, for example, having an employee who can speak Mandarin is an asset and can lead to improved workplace relations.
- A positive reputation: Companies that have a diverse workplace are often perceived as better employers. Potential employees want an employer who accepts and is tolerant of all backgrounds and who treats their employees fairly.
- Increase in marketing opportunities: If potential employees or customers see that a company represents a diverse workplace, it makes them feel like they can relate to the company more. Using advertising that depicts mature-aged, differently-abled, or ethnically diverse people encourages applicants to apply, promotes a positive reputation, increases marketplace awareness, and generates a more diverse client-base.
Achieving workplace diversity means you are bringing out the very best of your employees and allowing them to reach their full potential. By doing so, your workplace benefits as it encourages a more varied and innovative talent pool.
Diversify your workplace
If you’re looking to introduce a more diverse approach to your workplace, get in touch with the team at Ability Options today, or start your search for the perfect staff member here. Contact us to find out how we can help.