The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), in partnership with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), is celebrating the annual World Day for Cultural Diversity on 21 May 2012 with its ‘Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion’ campaign. As a part of this campaign, Diversity Council Australia urges people to acknowledge that racism does occur and to work harder to combat it.
Nareen Young, DCA’s CEO, said many people are reluctant to admit racism can be a problem:
“Many of us would prefer to think that racism doesn’t exist in Australia but our Working for the Future research showed it is a problem in some workplaces that must be addressed.
“Every one of us has probably heard someone say something racist, ranging from attempts to be funny right through to racist abuse. It can sometimes be really hard to speak up but don’t let it go unnoticed – challenge the use of racist language every single time it occurs! The sooner we face up to it, the sooner we can eliminate it,” said Ms Young.
Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Helen Szoke said one of the key initiatives to address racism is the National Anti-Racism Strategy, to be launched in July.
“We are on the cusp of an unprecedented opportunity to not only acknowledge racism, but to work to reduce it. Embracing cultural diversity and social cohesion is up to all of us so let’s work together – that’s what the Strategy is all about,” said Dr Szoke.
Key findings on racism in DCA’s research include:
- Approximately 10% of Australian employees had experienced racial harassment or discrimination in their workplace in the previous twelve months.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were three times more likely than non-Indigenous people to report having personally experienced an incident of discrimination at their organisation in the prior twelve months (30% vs 10%), and six times more likely to report having felt discriminated at work because of their cultural background (18% vs 3%).
- Men were significantly more likely to feel they had been discriminated against because of their cultural background (5% vs 3%) or racially harassed (9% vs 6%). They were also significantly more likely to indicate that the racial harassment had been witnessed (75% vs 51%).
- Non-Australian born respondents were significantly more likely to report being discriminated against on the basis of cultural background (11% vs 2%) and racially harassed (14% vs 6%).
- Racial harassment (9% had experienced an incident in the previous twelve months) was more common than sexual harassment (6%).
Stamping out racism and embracing cultural diversity in the workplace has benefits, added Ms Young:
“In a global marketplace, organisations that combat racism and nurture cultural diversity will have the greatest success in retaining talented workers of all backgrounds, as well as taking advantage of business opportunities in culturally diverse local, regional and global markets.
“We invite Australian employers and employees to consider what ‘one thing’ they can do to prevent racism and support cultural diversity,” said Ms Young.
For more information on the ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion’ campaign (including a video and photo contest) and to show your support, visit https://www.facebook.com/DoOneThingforDiversityandInclusion and http://www.unaoc.org/actions/campaigns/do-one-thing-for-diversity-and-inclusion/contest/.
Ten things you could do
Here are ten simple things YOU can do to celebrate the World Day for Cultural Diversity on May 21, 2012:
- Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
- Invite a family or people in the neighborhood from another culture or religion to share a meal with you and exchange views on life.
- Rent a movie or read a book from another country or religion than your own.
- Invite people from a different culture to share your customs.
- Read about the great thinkers of other cultures than yours (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna, Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi).
- Go on the week-end to visit a place of worship different than yours and participate in the celebration.
- Play the “stereotypes game.” Stick a post-it on your forehead with the name of a country. Ask people to tell you stereotypes associated with people from that country. You win if you find out where you are from.
- Learn about traditional celebrations from other cultures; learn more about Hanukkah or Ramadan or about amazing celebrations of New Year’s Eve in Spain or Qingming festival in China.
- Spread your own culture around the world through our Facebook page and learn about other cultures.
- Explore music of a different culture.