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Respecting Diversity in the Workplace

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A diverse workplace is one with a culture based on openness, honesty and mutual respect that provides employees with a safe and healthy work environment free from all forms of discrimination.

Workplace diversity is much broader than race or gender.

Diversity is an economic priority and legal obligation in business. Diversity in the workplace is about attracting, retaining and building a diverse and inclusive workforce to enable an organisation and its employees to work effectively and in harmony.

Workplaces bring together people of different ages, ethnicities, education, income levels, and physical abilities. Diversity in the workplace encompasses aspects of origin, generational differences, gender, race, cultural heritage, lifestyle, education, physical ability, appearance or language.

Australian workplaces need to embrace diversity particularly with the variety of backgrounds regarding gender, ethnicity and religion.

Although anti-discrimination laws are in place to protect minorities at work, the laws will only be effective it they are supported by a workplace culture of inclusiveness. In order to respect diversity in the workplace, the workplace must see the value of diverse backgrounds as a way to improve productivity and creativity on the job.

As strategy and supporting policy for managing workplace diversity is a great start. Consider what the employee and the organisation needs to get from such as strategy – what does it need to achieve?


Measure effectiveness of the strategy

The strategy and policy need to be measured for effectiveness and improvement opportunities. Diversity and respect must be measured by inclusion and feedback from the various stakeholders.

  • Measure participation rates in networks, committees and training and development programs

  • Seek feedback on the effectiveness of activities including flexible work hours and cultural inclusiveness

  • Identify issues and disputes raised, causal analysis and measures to prevent recurrences

Valuing diversity and creating respectful and fair workplaces results in increased employee engagement, heightened levels of workplace participation and innovation due to diverse thinking.

Remember capitalising on employee diversity is reflected in productive workplaces that support retention and attraction of employees through enhanced morale, increased job satisfaction and productivity. Work to continually improve the outcomes of the strategy for mutual benefit.