Australian businesses are very aware of the importance of a culturally diverse workforce and providing workplaces which are free from cultural bias, discrimination and vilification.
The enormous diversity in cultural, ethnic, religious and language background of the Australian labour force offers significant untapped potential which can provide business with vital:
- Language skills;
- Cultural knowledge and understanding;
- Business networks and knowledge of business practices and protocols in overseas markets; and
- Low cost intelligence about overseas markets, including intimate knowledge of consumer tastes and preferences.
The case with respect to Australian businesses’ global – and local – markets is particularly strong. Organisations that effectively capitalise on the skills and talents of their culturally diverse workforces can:
- Better understand and service an increasingly diverse client base;
- Open up business networks and identify and enter new local, regional and international markets; and
- Develop improved domestic niche marketing – 9.9 million Australian consumers are either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. Businesses that want to reach their ‘whole’ market cannot afford to ignore this critical mass of consumers.
Australia’s own population requires businesses to focus on culturally diverse approaches to marketing, business strategy, workforce development and talent management. There is a clear and compelling business case for fostering and supporting inclusive, culturally diverse workplaces. Research tells us that cultural diversity is good for:
- Profit and performance;
- Accessing markets;
- Innovation and creativity;
- Talent management.
There is also a business case for multi-faith diverse and inclusive organisations. Globalisation means clients and target audiences come from diverse cultures and practice different faiths. In some countries around the world over 90% of the population identify as religious (see The Washington Post, These are the World’s Least Religious Countries). Australian companies are developing markets and establishing trading relationships in new communities and regions of the world where business practices may be influenced in part by religious tenets. Organisations that are not responsive, respectful or inclusive of these differences may unknowingly cause offense and risk failure to fully capitalise on business opportunities.