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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

There are differences between people in how they identify in relation to aspects of their lives. Such factors as; age, cultural background, carer responsibility, disability, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, intersex status, socio-economic background, education, profession or work experience.

Our social and professional identity informs our individual perspective of the world. A perspective which is essential to creating the contrast needed for growth and change, both personally and collectively. We all have a need to feel welcomed and included in life and at work.

The right to feel valued, be respected and to have access to opportunities and resources equally, has us contribute our perspectives and talents optimally. Inclusion is integral to setting ourselves on an expanding course of well-being, opportunity and success. It is only through inclusion that we can make the most out of diversity and achieve a state of coherence personally and collectively.

The journey of creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workforce is not an easy one though. Working together to take collective action is a unique and powerful opportunity for us to not just chip away at incremental change, but to drive transformational change for all. We embed and build diversity and inclusion within our business and company cultures: an inclusive workplace which people feel they belong and to which they can bring the richness of their experiences to work every day. It is therefore imperative for any organisation that wants to succeed as the true identity of its self, is to recognise that it’s created by the culture of its people – being their behaviours, values and goals which have a direct impact on business success.

Research has shown that diversity and inclusion can help increase a business’ bottom line, drive innovation, attract more talent and create more opportunities for growth. And so it comes as no surprise that over the past few years, organisations have become more motivated to implement diversity and inclusion initiatives within their workplaces. Creating work environments where employees can share creative ideas, take considered risks without fear and be who they are.

These diverse and inclusive workplaces provide evidence of well-being, productivity and retention benefits.

Benefits of Diversity
In order to deliver valuable solutions for clients where the client service experience is better and clients are more engaged, an increasingly diverse workforce is needed. A diverse workforce provides a variety of perspectives and points of view, which can help provide a better experience for clients. Leveraging off the unique capabilities and experience of each team member is essential to bring the best ideas and solutions to clients.

The more diverse and inclusive a team, the more innovation is fuelled. A diverse workforce enhances the creativity and innovative thinking that is fundamental to an organisation’s success. Innovative solutions come from fostering dynamic teams, and an inclusive work environment that encourages innovative thinking, leads to creative solutions for clients.

Bringing out the best in people
Helping everyone achieve success and excellence on the work front potentially involves coaching, mentoring, sponsorship, goal setting, encouragement, and introductions. One way of encouraging people is to invite them to come together and learn about each other’s common interests. Creating forums in which people can share common experiences and educate those who have different life experiences creates a level of deeper understanding and appreciation.

Engagement is the key to driving change and creating success. Commitment to diversity and inclusion needs to go beyond the understanding that something is important. Formal programs and structures are necessary but the real action happens every day in every interaction that takes place across the organisation. Every person must seek to understand a perspective or life experience different from his or her own, and in turn, use that knowledge to create an environment in which every individual’s uniqueness matters. Such an environment helps us bring the best of ourselves to our work each and every day.

Inclusion is the only scalable way to build diversity within an organisation. Without thoughtful and deliberate discussion and action to cultivate an inclusive environment, all the energy and resources spent on recruiting a diverse workforce are wasted. For example, hiring talent and to have them faiI or resign because an organisation’s culture didn’t allow this diverse collection of people to coalesce and flourish. Resources and talented people are ultimately lost because a deeply nuanced issue of inclusion was not proactively addressed.

Statistics
Australia’s workforce is one of the most diverse in the world. Employees come from a wide range of cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, gender identities, ages, sexual orientations, and different family responsibilities. Yet discrimination, bullying, and harassment in the workplace remain ongoing issues, particularly for people from different cultural backgrounds, people with disabilities, mothers returning to work, LGBTI people, and mature age employees.

Experiencing discrimination, prejudice, and exclusion at work can be hurtful, and can result in employees feeling disengaged and dissatisfied at work. It’s a key contributor to an increased risk of anxiety, depression and self-harm for many Australians who feel ‘on the outer’ at work.

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