Diversity as an asset
Diversity in the workplace includes people from different ethnic and social backgrounds, religion, sexual orientation, genders, etc. Having a diverse group of people can be good in a business as it brings new ideas and different approaches to the table. It can also include people who are more artistic and others who are more practical.
Below are reasons why diversity in the workplace is an asset:
- Staff better reflect your customers and the community as a whole.
- The business is better able to meet the needs of tourists, newly arrived migrants and Australians with a foreign cultural heritage.
- If staff speak a variety of languages, they will be able to help foreign customers and business associates more, and may open up sales or contracts in other countries to export your products or services.
- It helps to innovate and implement new products or services and news, sales or marketing strategies aimed at different cultures.
- It shows the business to be an equal opportunity employer.
- Diversity brings different approaches and solutions to workplace problems.
- Diversity helps a business become an employer of choice that attracts and retains the best employees.
- It enhances the company’s image and reputation in the community and marketplace.
- It decreases the business’s vulnerability to legal challenges of discrimination.
Cultural awareness means understanding that not all people are the same. It is recognising different people have different values, different behaviors and sometimes fundamentally different approaches to life but that we all have something to contribute to the team or workplace.
Understanding other people’s culture and beliefs is an advantage to a business. It allows them to make professional decisions and they are able to communicate in a sensitive way that does not offend or create unnecessary problems.
Below is an image on what cultures do differently:
Equal Employment Opportunity
Equal employment opportunity (EEO) is the principle of equal pay, opportunity and conditions for all in the workplace; it involves identifying and eliminating any discriminatory barriers that cause inequality in the employment of any person or group of persons. This ensures that employers give their employees the same opportunities to progress in their career as everyone else in the workplace.
In Australia, it is illegal to discriminate against individuals based on personal attributes. For example, if you are a young professional going for a position in the workplace, if they decided not to give you the promotion due to your age, that is discrimination.
Below is other examples on what is illegal to discriminate customers and staff on:
- Family obligations
- Sexuality or what gender they identify as
- Relationship or parental status
- Religious belief
- Political beliefs
- Trade union activity
- Lawful Sexual Activity
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Association with or relation to someone with the same characteristics listed above
Dignity and respect
Everybody in the workplace needs to be treated with dignity and respect as everybody has an important role within the company. In an abattoir, without the boner, the meat would not be boned and without the sales team, the meat would not be sold. Every job is essential to help the business run and everyone has the right to come to work and be shown the same dignity and respect as every other worker.
Below are ways to show dignity and respect:
- Do not discriminate against others in the workplace.
- Do not sexually harass others in the workplace.
- Practice Work Health and Safety.
- Always remember that as well as your moral responsibility, equal opportunity, anti-discrimination, Work Health and Safety and sexual harassment is also a legal responsibility in the workplace.
- Be polite.
- Treat colleagues as people not just workers.
- Don’t talk down to people.
- Where possible help others with any problems they have.
- Separate people’s personal lives from their work.
Ethics are a concept of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ in our behaviour, according to a set of moral principles. However, as a society Australia values a number of principles: individual freedom, a fair go for all people, anti-discrimination, honesty in business, abiding by a deal or contract, abiding by the law and respecting diversity and other people’s point of view.
In a business and social environment, if you are seen to lack ethics, it can severely alter the way colleagues and people in general perceive you. Depending on your workplace policies, it could also lead to termination of work.
Policies and procedures
Every business will have policies and procedures that they will go through when you first begin your career. Policies are often related to ethical behaviour and statements against harassment and discrimination. Procedures are usually more related to how you perform tasks that form part of your day to day work activities. All managers and employees are expected to follow these policies and procedures or it can lead to warnings and even termination, depending on the severity of the situation.
Use non-discriminatory language
Non-discriminatory language is language which does not discriminate against, denigrate or exclude an individual or group based on their gender, race, disability, age or other personal characteristics. In almost all cases in a business situation there will be no need to refer to the personal characteristics of a colleague or customer. Often, when people use discriminatory language others can hear it in a negative way.
Under no circumstance is it okay to use discriminatory language, especially when speaking to customers. This can lead to that customer having a negative view on the business and can escalate any problems further. Workplace computers or phones are also not private, when emailing your colleagues, ensure that you use non-discriminatory language or write anything that you would not want your managers to read.
Disabilities and personal problems
A lot of customers and coworkers may suffer from some type of disability in their lifetime. These disabilities can be physical and easily noticeable while others can be mental and not so easily noticeable. Discriminating a coworker or customer based on their disability is illegal in Australia due to our anti-discrimination laws. These laws ensure that everybody is given a fair go and people with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect.
Below are types of disabilities:
- Mobility disabilities
- Vision impairment
- Personal difficulties
- Hearing disability
Employment Acts and legislation
In Australia, there a number of Acts relevant to the employment of a person within any operating business.
These Acts include:
- Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009: This Act provides for terms and conditions of employment, sets out rights and responsibilities of employees, provides for compliance with and enforcement of this Act, provides for the administration of this Act by establishing Fair Work Australia and the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman.
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Commonwealth): This Act ensures that all people are treated the same and it is unlawful to apply preferene, resctriction or distinction of any person on the basis of their race, colour and descent or national/ethnic origin
- The Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Commonwealth):This Act aims to improve and promote equality for men and women.
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth): This Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person in any public life, including work, based on their disability.
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Commonwealth):This Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on their sex, gender identity, intersex status, sexual orientation, marital or relationship status, family responsibilities or current pregnancy status.
- Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Commonwealth): This Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on their age.
- Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Commonwealth): This Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on their personal attributes.