Employees want cultural diversity to be prioritised more at work

Last updated on 27 November 2023

Employees say they want to see cultural diversity promoted in the workplace, but many are unaware of their employer’s diversity policies. [Source: Shutterstock]

Employees are placing an increasing amount of importance on diversity in the workplace but it appears many are being let down as research shows approximately half of employees are working in an environment with no clear diversity policy.

The aged care sector is typically well-positioned when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Providers recognise they have a highly diverse workforce, especially where race and ethnicity are concerned. Many providers also place a high amount of emphasis on attracting and supporting all members of their diverse workforce, which is why organisations such as Infinite Care have strategies to help. 

“It is important there is a clear strategy and a high level of support around mobilising and relocating team members from different countries. It can be very daunting to uproot your life and family and come to somewhere that you have perhaps never visited before,” Infinite Care CEO, Luke Greive, told hello leaders

“Ensuring adequate ongoing support to ensure well-being and support to assimilate into the organisation and the wider community is important.”

But as recent research from office supplies and technology solutions company COS shows, the majority of employees themselves are unaware of their workplace’s diversity policies and strategies. 

Key facts

  • Over two-thirds of employees say it’s important to them that their workplace has a diversity policy, with the top reasons being it aligns with their personal values, makes them feel proud to work there and it ultimately makes companies more successful
  • However, only 47% of respondents actually say their company has a diversity policy in place, while a further 35% are unsure
  • Diversity rates are high as 85% of respondents claim to work in a diverse setting, with race and ethnicity (72%), age (69%) and gender (67%) all visible facets of the diverse workforce they occupy

With 53% of surveyed employees revealing their employer does not have a diversity policy – or at best they’re unsure about it – it’s critical for employers to clearly communicate that they do cater for anyone and everyone. Amie Lyone, Co-CEO of COS, said this provides countless benefits in the short and long term.

“There’s a significant amount of research that reflects that diverse companies are more likely to outperform non-diverse businesses, so it’s truly in everyone’s best interest to ensure this is a priority within the workplace. As Co-CEO with my sister, it’s important for us to have a strong representation of females at the leadership table and we are proud that 56% of our 60 leaders are women,” Ms Lyone explained. 

“Our employees also come from more than 51 different parts of the world and speak over 60 different languages. Based on the evidence of the benefits, as well as the yearning for diversity from staff, it’s apparent that while leaders may want to improve this area of the business, they simply don’t know how or where to find the time.”

“Often tasks like creating and implementing policies take a back seat to more time-sensitive items that need urgent attention, but it’s clear that employees are looking for more businesses to implement diversity policies so it’s important to take action,” she added.

The lack of a visible diversity policy does not mean a workplace isn’t diverse. However, by not promoting that you are a diverse and inclusive workplace, you may hinder your ability to nurture a tolerant and compassionate workforce. 

Speaking to hello leaders, Lifeview Aged Care CEO, Samantha Jewell, said they always have an inclusion statement on all job interviews to show their support for potential employees.

“If [LGBTI inclusion] is not for them, that’s okay but this is who we are and we don’t accept any harassment or bullying. If you can’t accept everybody as they are, then we’re not the place for you because it’s not up to us to choose who someone is,” explained Ms Jewell 

“People should be able to feel safe when they come to work and when they enter our facility as a resident, it’s a basic human right.”

Tips to help strengthen diversity

  • Conduct an internal audit: If no policy exists, a formal review of your organisation is the perfect starting point. Look at elements such as the gender split across all staffing and management levels, pay differences and cultural mix.
  • Be clear on your goals: A good policy outlines your stance on inclusion and how employee behaviours are addressed, but a great one identifies future goals. For example, increasing female representation across senior management by 15% or increasing your board’s cultural mix to better reflect workplace diversity.
  • Improve the hiring process: Ms Lyone identifies the recruitment process as the number one stage where businesses miss the mark with diversity. Include a more diverse panel of interviewers to reduce bias at the first hurdle
  • Educate and engage: Cultural awareness is essential. Educate and engage with all staff so they know how to respect their colleagues and celebrate diversity, including participating in religious or cultural events. 
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