2017 was quite the year when it came to progress and change. You could almost feel society’s growing pains as the status quo was challenged and stretched, from womens’ grassroots chorus of #metoo, through to the legal triumph of same-sex marriage in Australia.
This year, yet more diversity dimensions will make their presence felt on national and international agendas. Here at DCA, we’ll be focusing on them.
As fellow change agents, and practitioners of diversity and inclusion, here are the key issues to look out for and lend support to.
Closing the Gap
2018 marks the ten-year ‘anniversary’ of the Closing the Gap targets. As things stand, we’re far from having something to celebrate. Indigenous disadvantage remains both evident and empirical in key social areas, such as employment, health and education. Only one of the targets (reducing the gap in year 12 completion) is on track, and 2018 will see the government and Indigenous groups once more try to thrash out effective change – no easy job after the Uluru Statement calling for a First Nations voice to Parliament was swiftly rejected by Malcolm Turnbull.
Professor Megan Davis, Director of UNSW's Indigenous Law Centre, says that the goal in sight for Australia’s First Peoples remains Constitutional recognition and structural reform, rather than simply rebranding and resetting Close the Gap targets. “This is because of the importance that Constitutional recognition provides to Indigenous populations in terms of the kind of political legitimacy that’s required to influence public institutions,” she told the ABC.
“… What we know from poverty research, is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be able to close the gap if we provide them with the structure, power and resources to do that, rather than them being locked out of the conversation.”
Businesses, too, have a supporting role to play in this national conversation. Our resources and report reveal the motivations and aspirations of Aboringal Australians in the context of the corporate sector and provide valuable information to help build sustainable employment strategies.
Out at work
Despite last year’s same-sex marriage vote, coming out at work still represents a risk to career and professional relationships for many LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people. Their fear persists. Thanks in no small part to the homophobic and transphobic incidents that marred 2017’s debate.
Common decency and common sense won out. And now, in this new era of marriage equality, businesses have an opportunity. A chance to look at diversity and inclusion policies in a whole new way – through the lens of LGBTIQ-inclusion, which in turn can have a number of benefits for various groups in the workplace.
Writing in The Conversation following the vote, RMIT Lecturer Raymond Trau and DCA’s Policy and Research Manager Cathy Brown put forward their suggestions, saying that first, organisations should focus on creating an inclusive culture beneficial to both LGBTIQ and non-LGBTIQ workers – one of the simplest ways to build this inclusive culture being language.
They explain: “Inclusive language enables a diversity of people (such as those of different ages, cultures and genders) to feel valued and respected and able to contribute their talents to drive organisational performance. Simply thinking about the language we all use when addressing staff, customers and other stakeholders, asking about partners for example, can go a long way to making LGBTIQ and non-LGBTIQ workers feel included.”
Once the basics are in place, policy is also outlined as a key area.
“Recognition of same-sex relationships provides an opportunity for revisiting and updating policies relating to partnerships and families, such as parental leave policies. Prior to this conversation, same-sex relationships and ‘rainbow families’ may not have been commonly discussed in the workplace. And this invisibility might be reflected in workplace policies.”
Our resources can help you manage this important and timely aspect of diversity.
All about inclusion
Following November’s publication of the Diversity Council Australia-Suncorp Inclusion@Work Index – the first nationally representative survey measuring the impact and extent of inclusion in workplaces – it’s clear we’re now at a point where diversity is no longer enough.
Our findings from the survey showed that 75% of Australian workers support or strongly support their organisation taking action to create a more diverse, but also a more inclusive, workplace
That means that, if diversity was the mix, inclusion is now getting that mix to work. Creating a space where a diversity of people are respected, connected – and able to hit career goals that contribute to organisational success.
As a leader, you can make a world of difference. It starts by aspiring to a higher bar, where you look to value differences among employees, seek out ideas from a diversity of people, treat everyone fairly, and deal with inappropriate behaviour the very second it rears its head.
Because ultimately, if people don’t feel included, then we won’t realise any of the benefits of diversity.
Read more on inclusion