Vietnamese rice noodles, sushi and lest we forget the fabled Halal Snack Pack. These are foods that we Australians love and know. As a society we have a diverse range of tastes and lifestyles. It’s easy to recognise diversity in food and Australian culture but what about diversity in the workplace?

What is Diversity in the Workplace?

Workplace diversity is not simply acknowledging differences such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender or expression of religion and sexual orientation. It involves positively creating an environment that embraces and values differences, as a business’s core competitive advantage and promoting inclusiveness.

Why is diversity important?

Diversity in the workplace encourages critical thinking

Our life experiences and culture define the way that we see and approach any problem. The beauty of working in any business is the way in which ideas are bounced back and forth between people. The variety of your employees backgrounds and cultural upbringing is a competitive advantage and a strategic opportunity. You can leverage your employee’s personal experiences and cultural upbringing to form new ideas and fresh perspectives that can help your business connect with customers you might never previously have considered.

In an era where creativity and innovation are essential to any business, workplace diversity is no longer an ethical decision, it is essential to increasing productivity and creativity in the workplace.

Diversity in the workplace makes people feel valued

A fully diverse workforce sends a strong message to employees and candidates that your organisation is accepting of all and is therefore an employer of choice. According to a study (Deloitte 2011), diversity is leveraged through the ‘extent to which individuals feel valued and included by an organisation.’ Your employment practices are a way you can show inclusive leadership and signals to potential employees that your company welcomes individual differences

How can you cultivate diversity?

Actively encourage diversity awareness

Always communicate to your employees the importance of inclusion and provide opportunities for staff to work in teams and utilise their differences. By encouraging employees to be inquisitive and to challenge pre-existing company policies you can promote an open collaborative environment. Devoting time and effort into educating and retraining your employees will help ease them into their new job and create a company culture that values diversity.

Commit to the cause

As a manager it is important to actively implement policies to encourage an inclusive work environment. Providing diversity training in your workplace will help employees understand that hiring decisions are based on finding the best candidate and not filling arbitrary quotas. Making the recruiting process more transparent can also help ease the minds of skeptical employees and highlight the importance of working across cultures.

Legal issues

It is also important to keep in mind that there are laws that regulate diversity and equal employment, including a fair number that forbid discrimination. To that end, you should make sure that you’re up to scratch on your obligation as an employer under state and federal law.

An anti-discrimination policy sends a strong message to your employees that you are a legally compliant firm that values workplace diversity.

Closing remarks

Inclusion and diversity are fundamental to any business. Embracing diversity is not only ethically correct, it leads to bottom line benefits and is a small business’s competitive advantage. Actively review your management practices and think of ways that you can promote worker diversity.

Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.