Why celebrate diversity days

Our calendar of D&I days of significance is one of DCA’s most popular resources. So use it to help celebrate diversity days in your workplace. 

Celebrating diversity days is great for raising awareness. It also provides an opportunity for learning and reflection. And a great chance to meet and connect with different people from across your organisation.

What’s more, in our research we have heard from lots of people that when a company recognises days of significance, it makes people feel visible.

But celebrating diversity days alone is not enough to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.

Here are our top 5 recommendations for how to celebrate diversity days, but not only celebrate diversity days.

1. Don’t just do cupcakes.

If holding a morning tea once a year for IWD or IDAHOBIT is the only way that an organisation promotes D&I, it will feel tokenistic.

Diversity days are just one aspect of D&I work, and they should not be the only action you take around D&I. Awareness raising is a good thing, so too is providing employees with a chance to connect and learn about other people. But for D&I to be effective, organisations need to commit to ongoing D&I training, education, and initiatives to promote an inclusive workplace.

2. Ensure the days you celebrate are linked to your D&I goals.

As you will see from our calendar, there are a lot of diversity days of significance. It’s not possible for one business to recognise all of them, so we would advise prioritising the days you mark based on the other D&I work you are doing, and the issues that you know matter to your employees.

3. Recognise that organising a diversity day celebration is work.

Something we have heard often in our research is that there is an expectation that staff with lived experience will do the work to organise events such as NAIDOC week on top of their existing workload. But this is work, and it needs to be acknowledged and recognised in your employee’s performance reviews.

4. Use diversity days as a chance to draw attention to systemic barriers – and what your organisation is doing to address these.

We know from research that there are a lot of invisible barriers that are locking people from diverse backgrounds out of leadership.

If we want to address the systemic issues that prevent certain groups from accessing opportunities and advancing in their careers, we need need to take a serious look at hiring practices, promotion policies, and pay equity to ensure that they are not perpetuating inequality.

One way to do this is by using diversity days to draw attention to systemic issues, and provide a forum to discuss these.

It’s also important to make clear that your organisation is – or at least has a plan to – addressing these systemic barriers. For example, if you will be rolling out ant-racism training in the workplace, this could be promoted when marking International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD, also commonly referred to as ‘Harmony Day’ in Australia).

5. Embed D&I into your business strategies.

Diversity days are a great way to connect people and bring employees together. But for D&I to be effective, it’s essential to embed D&I changes into policies, processes, and systems.

To create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace, businesses should need to take a holistic approach to D&I that addresses systemic issues, requires ongoing commitment, and is embedded into the company’s culture. By taking a comprehensive approach, companies can create an inclusive workplace where employees from diverse backgrounds can thrive.