The words ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are often thrown around in the workplace and are said to be one of the hottest business topics of 2019. But what do they actually mean?
Diversity is the acceptance, celebration and understanding of the differences amongst people. The most common kinds include differences of ethnicities, gender, race, disabilities, religion, age and sexual orientation.
However, these differences can also include life experiences such as education, personalities, skill sets and knowledge bases.
Inclusion means that regardless of a persons ability, disability or health care needs they have the right to be respected and appreciated as valuable members of a team. To be successful a collaborative, supportive and respectful environment must be created to increase the participation and contribution of all employees.
Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion is a company’s mission and promise to create strategies and practices that support a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Why Are Diversity and Inclusion Important?
- It’s the law – it helps companies meet the legal and regulatory equality duties
- It gives access to a wider recruitment pool
- It helps retain staff
- It creates a flexible and responsive workforce
- It’s the right thing to do
- It’s good for business
- It creates opportunities to learn from others and grow
- It creates a more welcoming workplace
- It attracts a wider variety of clients
Diversity and Inclusion Strategies
Some of the key strategies to support a diverse and inclusive environment used by the Fair Work Ombudsman Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2018-2021 include:
- Creating sustainable and flexible careers that are free from barriers
- Maintaining open and transparent communication channels
- Recognising and increasing awareness of the value of diversity and inclusion
- Making the best use of the diverse talents of different workers
- Equipping leaders to drive and exemplify diverse and inclusive practices
- Ensuring all employees feel safe, included, valued and respected
- Genuinely understanding and accommodating the diversity of the community and stakeholders and reflecting this in internal systems and processes
Diversity and Inclusion Laws in Australia
National and state laws cover equal employment opportunities in Australia and anti-discrimination in the workplace. These laws are in place to protect workers and to encourage an environment of diversity and inclusion. The following laws operate at a federal level and the Australian Human Rights Commission has statutory responsibilities under them:
- Age Discrimination Act 2004
- Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984
Western Australia also has its own state Act called the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 to further prohibit discriminatory behavior and encourage inclusive and diverse workplaces. Under this Act discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, breastfeeding, race, religion, political conviction, age, impairment, family responsibility or family status, gender history and publication of relevant details on the Fines Enforcement Registrar’s website are all prohibited.
Diversity and inclusion play a vital role in the success of any company. To be successful this has to be a genuine mission for a company, rather than just a HR program. So what are you waiting for? Give your company a leg up and implement some of the suggestions outlined above to boost your competitive edge today!