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Diversity and Equity in the workplace

Diversity has been spoken about considerably in recent times. Equity to some degree is in the eyes of the beholder. Lets read on, lets see how we may be able to inform you, help you. Read now Discrimination, what’s it all mean, know your rights today. Diversity and Equity in the workplace is important reading.

What does diversity and Equity look like in the workplace

What does diversity and equity look like in the workplace, is a subject I haven’t seen much written about, so here goes. There are many examples of diversity (and lack of) in the workplace. We all become comfortable with our own groupings. (you see this with religious groups, same beliefs, same ideals) Variety in many cases can be in the eye of the beholder.

Definition of Variety

the quality or state of being different or diverse; the absence of uniformity or monotony. it’s the variety that makes my job so enjoyable

It’s worth taking a moment and asking: what does diversity and equity mean to you in a particular workplace environment? The concern is people become comfortable, accept the status quo. Not everybody wants to get up in the morning and challenge themselves to do better, make the company, the world a better place. Now this is not being overly critical of people, its just the way it is.

People often fall into an unconscious habit of thinking of diversity and equity in only one or two dimensions. It can be race, age, gender, amongst others, and employees usually only see diversity though their own circumstances and views. Allot of employees see diversity and equity as tolerance of others. Employees think well I work with other races, genders, religions, so we are a inclusive group here. Diversity and equity is ensuring there is deliberate policy and culture of avoidance of the stereotyping of the groups of employees. A deliberate approach to employing people that are individuals outside of the “group” , but based on skills, experience, not because of the sole basis they are different.

Striving for diversity

But this can intended consequences, in striving for diversity in the workplace, you employ people form a particular nationality, and the experience works out well for the company, then they ask can their friend have a job, they’ve just arrived from overseas. You think why not, its work out well so far, its still diversity. But the concern is diversity is here, but no equity, the particular nationality speak in their native language, hence the exclusion to others, Is this fair?, there is not simple answer, the last thing you want to be seen is to be perceived as a racist.

Everybody should be welcome, how do we get there?

Definition of diversity

he state of being diverse; variety. “there was considerable diversity in the style of the reports”

the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc. “equality and diversity should be supported for their own sake”

Is Diversity Easy?

But depending on the situation, you can almost always find a way to increase the level of diversity in a group of employees, or a team, factory, office, whatever on a decision, in planning, or in a conversation, or in a change of policies, but it must not look like or suggest discrimination in itself. Or a action just to say we are politically correct, to satisfy others outside the company (shareholders, media, legal, etc).

Diversity and equity in the workplace, faces many challenges

Here are a few examples: 

Diversity and Equity in the workplace can be in the delivery or development of a new product or service. 

The more employers are trying to serve and create value for a diverse set of customers and customer needs, the more they need multidimensional diversity in their teams. 

  • The first level of diversity (that we almost take for granted now) is cross-functional representation. If you look around and only see scientist you know that is a problem. 
  • The team is given the job of developing a product for a national market. It’s easy to look around and see whether a team is dominated by one gender or one race. Unless the product really only aspires to serve that homogenous market, that’s a problem. 
  • What about socio-economic status? In most professional situations, everyone has achieved a similar band of income and economic security that can lead to a loss of perspective on value, pricing, and relevance. How about educational background? Does everyone come from one or two schools? Has anyone worked their way up through a community college or other means? 
  • Do they share the same work experience? This is particularly an issue in large firms that have very structured career tracks.
  • Is everyone currently in the same city? Did they all grow up in similar environments despite coming from across the globe? 
  • to break down this grouping is extremely difficult, and can take years to achieve, but you have to start, cultural change is a challenge, we all know that, but the quicker its acknowledged, the quicker it can be dealt with.


First documented in 1971, groupthink is a phenomenon that occurs when individuals avoid disagreeing with a group or expressing doubt. The larger and more similar the group, the less likely individuals are to dissent. 

In this multi-faith commune, there is harmony in celebrating difference

Sunday Age, 19/12/2021

I think the headline in the age has some relevance, be proud of the difference, even if it comes pain and cost. The Australian way of putting “groupthink'”, is to refer to the group as “yes men”, there are numerous studies out, indicating the longer the CEO is in charge of a company, the higher the percentage employees around him or her that have like minded views. Why?

On one hand, individuals may feel such a strong group identification that it feels uncomfortable or threatening to disrupt the group consensus. Group norms and behaviors form and solidify quickly because they seem to share so much in common.  On the other hand, all of the individuals in the group might share such a similar set of experiences that they share the same blind spots and the same lack of awareness of their blind spots. 

Even groups with the best intentions can fall prey to groupthink. Irving Janis, the psychologist who first researched group decision-making, found that behavior such as bullying, rationalizing, and lapses in moral judgment were more likely under these circumstances. You compromise your principals, standards to fit in, not “rock the boat”.

Having a diverse team provides access to a wider range of skill sets and experiences and different ways of thinking, behaving and communicating. This facilitates the growth of new ideas and reduces groupthink.

We all need to get along. The fear of dismissal because of who you are is a thing of the past.
Three signs you work in a toxic workplace

Diversity and Equity in the workplace, how do we do this? Changing the culture of a workplace is challenging but rewarding work.

Many shy away from it because they don’t know where to start or aren’t sure that they’re doing it right. If an organization has previously tried — and failed — to implement a diversity initiative, they may decide that such initiatives don’t work or that the benefits are no longer worth the effort, and maintain the status quo, after all it has worked previously for a long time.

However, there won’t ever not be a demand for inclusive and diverse workplaces, 40 percent of all people in Australia are foreign born and will be entering the workforce in the future. Now is always a good time to start, but if previous efforts failed, the company needs to take a different approach. 

Here are eight ways to start reviewing, challenging — and shifting — your employer to a more inclusive environment, one to be proud of.

1. Recruitment processes

Ensure diversity and equity in your recruitment practices by making sure that you are looking at talent from all backgrounds. Don’t needlessly apply barriers to entry in the hiring process, like advanced degrees, expensive certifications, or experience with certain firms. poor English should not been seen as a barrier, wee have to knowledge 40% of all Australians are foreign born. The skills, training, experience that these migrants and refugees bring is fantastic and over the last 200 years its what Australia has been build on.

You have to insist that your Employer restate your companies commitment to inclusive recruitment, regardless of background and disability, in the job description. Make sure that when conducting interviews, you represent diversity amongst existing employees as well as in potential employees. There is a whole level of prejudice towards employees who have filed and or been on Workcover, that they are lazy, complainers or may just get injured again and be a liability to the company. We have to move away from this subconscious approach of “only fit, white, young males may apply”.

2. Employee groups

Your employees are whole people, and they bring their entire selves to work everyday. Its not uncommon to spend more time at work than with you own husband, wife or partner. It is hard to separate your work life, away from your home life, phones, laptops, social media going 24 hours a day doesn’t help, your expected to be accessible all the time. Providing spaces where employees can gather with other people of their background, ethnicity, and/or who share certain interests are a way to make sure that people feel included and represented at work. A prayer room, a area for women to breast feed, share their national food. These adjustment don’t really cost anything and it shows inclusiveness and respect.

Conflict between the employee and employer should be avoided. Good relations and collaborative leadership is key.

3. Lead by Example

Leaders set the pace for their companies in more ways than one. Inclusive leadership groups make better decisions, and are a powerful reminder to the rest of the company of the values the organization embodies. Many people from under-represented backgrounds are concerned about their ability to progress in their career (that ever-present glass ceiling), so seeing someone they can relate to reassures them that the company is a place where they can thrive. There is a chance they can get ahead, not a felling of hopelessness.

4. Be upfront, honest in the approach 

Don’t try to build diversity on your own. Be transparent about your efforts and ask your teams for help. One person can’t see or fix everything by themselves. Consider implementing regular meetings and feedback devices where your team can report on what they see. What needs to be improved, and discuss in a neutral space any concerns they may have. Be sure you follow up by acknowledging their concerns and implementing meaningful changes.

5. Community Engagement (Both in and outside the Company)

Social justice issues are prevalent, and companies can’t be quite like they used to be, you see this with climate change. There’s possibly no faster way to lose the trust of your people than by putting out a statement that isn’t reflected in their day-to-day experience. Take an zero tolerance stance against racism, discrimination, sexism, prejudice, and harassment. These are human rights issues, not limited to special interest groups. (this special interest groups seems to have in through lobbying groups) Building an environment where people feel safe and valued means standing up for their rights. 

There are all sorts of characters in the workplace. Tolerence of each other sometimes has to be worked on.

6. Be open, let it be seen

Diversity and groups means diversity of thought. Ask employees to contribute to the discussion, especially if they haven’t spoken up before. Remember, when a conversation becomes too homogeneous (in other words, when there is groupthink) it becomes harder for people to speak up with dissenting opinions. Play your own devil’s advocate and discuss the pros and cons of your own ideas. This will demonstrate that you are interested in the best idea, not just the most popular one. You are listening to all, with no fear as to who you are or background.

7. Do the research

Share the benefits of diversity with your fellow employees, share little stories, put the benefits forward, in a succinct way. Try and ensure where you can that it being evidence based. Looking at the positives is no bad thing, instead we are always, if we are not careful, of wanting to tear people, ideas down. Research continues to be done on the benefits of a diverse workplace. Across the board, employees are happier, healthier, stay longer, and produce more when they feel respected, valued, and included. Inclusivity builds trust within an organization.

8. Diversity and Equity Stories

Diversity and Equity in the workplace. I’ll tell a story (stories mentioned in 7) of my own, one Friday night (18 years ago) I was going out, of course I don’t drink drive, so I got an Taxi. I asked the driver to stop at a bottle shop, he wouldn’t, three times I asked, and he kept driving past bottle shops. It was obvious because of his religious beliefs. I was getting frustrated, I said to him, how many Christian friends do you have?, no answer. Further I said to him, ask me how many Muslim friends do I have, I said none. I said neither of us have crossed the divide. Telling this story to others in the work place over time, its shows the great divide, the lack of diversity in my friends. I took a conscious decision this is to never happen again.

We at A Whole New Approach have a very diversified work force. See, its not that hard, it fits in with the “a fair go mate”, that we as Australian’s are proud of. The taxi drive and I are still friends to this day.

Be the one that’s different, be the stand out!

Conclusion: Diversity and Equity in the workplace

Diversity and equity in the workplace, isn’t just a conversation or whoever. Everyone has something that makes them different, its what’s makes us who we are and makes the world more interesting. Lets be honest it would be boring if we were all the same. The challenge for management is to play to employees strengths.

To get the best out of people, Employers should be doing this anyway, so its not like employers have to spend huge amounts of money introducing this change. Whether it’s a unique upbringing, educational background, way of thinking, or perspective on the world, whether its nature or nurture, we all bring our own strengths to the workplace. A diverse and inclusive employer is one that is on the forefront of innovation, social change, community and employee engagement.

I hope you enjoyed the article “Diversity and Equity in the workplace”. We are A Whole New Approach, leading workplace advisors. Acknowledged as leaders in Fair work Australia and Fair work Commission matters, including unfair dismissals, discrimination, sexual harassment. We constantly lodge general protections claims relating to matters of diversity. Casual employment rights, workers rights, bullied or harassment call us ASAP.

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