June 21, 2016
Australia is one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world. In its 2011 Census, more than 75% of Australians identified as having an ancestry other Australian and 18% of people surveyed spoke a language other than English at home. Around 2% of the population came from indigenous backgrounds and 43% have at least one parent who was born overseas.
A 2010 comparison conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics highlighted the Australian labour force consisted of 11 million people, of which 29% were born overseas.
So how do you encourage cultural diversity in your workplace?
Every new worker will experience nerves on their first day at a new job, and this could be enhanced if English is not their first language. Orientation is a good strategy to introduce all new employees, particularly for those who struggle with English, as it can include verbal, written or role playing presentations to assist them with easing into the workplace.
You can also partner your new employee with a ‘buddy’ who has worked for the company for a reasonable period of time. This buddy can provide the new employee with advice and guidance around the day to day aspects of working for the company and answer any questions the employee may have.
Aside from anti-discrimination legislation, there are no regulations employers must meet when it comes to cultural diversity in the workplace. It is, however, good practice to identify, attract and hire employees from a range of diverse backgrounds. In your job advertisements specify you encourage people from Aboriginal or Torres State backgrounds to apply, or that you are an Equal Employment Opportunity employer. This indicates you do not discriminate when hiring.
Encouraging cultural diversity in your workplace can introduce an array of skills, knowledge and expertise to your business, and can assist increased productivity, reach alternative markets and promote a positive company reputation.
The Australian North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) is Australia’s success story for encouraging and utilising indigenous people in the workforce by recognising the unique skills and experiences they can provide to the Australian Army. In return for teaching their fellow soldiers survival and navigation, the Army teaches these soldiers skills that can assist them with finding civilian jobs once they leave NORFORCE.
Discrimination based on language, appearance or other nationality while unlawful, can also create a barrier which makes a workplace unappealing. By implementing a no discrimination policy, including this in employment handbooks, and highlighting your zero tolerance policy during staff induction, you encourage a workplace culture of acceptance.
Cultural learning or team building exercises can educate your employees on various cultures. This encourages them to learn more about the varying cultures and helps to remove any barriers.
If you have any questions relating to cultural diversity, contact Employsure today on 1300 651 415. We can assist with ensuring your workplace is equal and fair.
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