Diversity – part 2 – saying it, meaning it, showing it

When we were looking for stock photos for our posts recently, the results prompted us to reflect on the importance of embracing diversity for business: saying it, meaning it and showing it.

Is everyone treated as a valued team member?

Despite the outstanding efforts of initiatives like #wocintechchat, it’s difficult to find images which show a really diverse mix of people and even harder to find groups in which all those pictured look like equal participants in the business.

Media representation generally often just doesn’t reflect the reality of the incredibly diverse employee, customer and stakeholder base for most Australian companies, government agencies and NGOs.

According to the ABS, of our 24 million people nationally:

  • 3 per cent identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples, with many areas where the proportion is far higher;
  • 28 per cent were born overseas;
  • slightly more than half are women;
  • around 18 per cent have a disability;
  • almost 16 per cent of Australians are aged between 55 and 69 years of age;
  • 23 per cent speak languages other than English at home; and
  • there are 34,000 same sex couples in Australia.

ABS sources here, here and here .

The HR Council in Canada have looked at the issue from a staffing perspective.

Can we do more to reflect the reality of our workplaces? Image: #wocintechchat

“Recent statistics indicate that diverse employees are three times more likely to leave an organization than non-diverse workers because:

  • They don’t feel part of the organization
  • They don’t feel valued
  • They don’t feel they have an opportunity for advancement
  • They feel that cultural barriers exist
  • They believe a competitor is more likely to develop career paths for a more diverse range of employees.”

Managing diversity means minimizing the challenges or barriers to a productive and diverse workforce. The more effective an organization is at supporting diversity and inclusion, the more engagement that organization will experience among its employees.

As Australia continues to become more diverse, failing to manage diversity effectively is becoming an increasingly expensive practice, as Julie Kantor explains. She cites a study conducted by the Center for America Progress: “…losing an employee can cost anywhere from 16% of their salary for hourly, unsalaried employees, to 213% of the salary for a highly trained position”.

A failure to put diverse individuals on the promotion path can significantly decrease job satisfaction, and lead to the departure of talented juniors who cannot see people like themselves represented at senior levels.

Kantor notes the effectiveness of mentoring in increasing staff retention. Anecdotal evidence repeatedly shows that people from diverse groups find inspiration in being mentored by others from that same group.

Does your organisation promote diversity and inclusion? Does the diversity of your staff reflect the diversity of your customers? What sorts of images do you choose to represent your company?

How do you acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples of Australia? What does your organisation do to support reconciliation? When you go to meet with clients, who do you choose to take along? Is the diversity of your staff reflected right through your organisation at every level?