1. Offer your next recruitment to a specialist agency. Specialist Job Network providers exist to help people with specific backgrounds or circumstances find ongoing work, many focus on those with a disability. You will be surprised at the quality of applicants you will find through this means. Some accommodations may be needed to help them integrate in to your workplace but they will be well worth it.
2. Discover your existing workplace diversity. Do you know the racial and linguistic backgrounds or your workers, what about their carer status? Do you know your gender and age spreads? Conducting an opt-in diversity survey can be a great way to understand what capacities your organisation may be hiding and what challenges it may need to plan for. If you need help EEON has specialists who can help craft a diversity survey for you.
3. Become flexible. Flexible working arrangement can greatly increase your staff productivity. Parents and carers are often those who most take advantage of these but allowing all staff to work flexibly (within the confines of their role’s requirement) is a great boost to morale. After all, not everyone has a life that fits 9 to 5.
4. Some basics. Gender neutral toilets, parenting rooms, prayer room or spaces, parental leave for all genders, wheelchair access, gender neutral language in communications. Each of these make life a little easier and may be the difference in attracting and keeping the best staff.
5. Attract diverse customers. Make sure you advertising represents your customers as a diverse group of people. People are more likely to buy a product or use a service where they see they are being represented. Although it initially received some online backlash, Optus used signs in Arabic saying “We speak your language. Come to one of these Optus stores and chat to us in Arabic” in an area with a large Arabic speaking population. With the diversity of languages spoken in Australia how many potential customers are you failing to reach with English only campaigns?
6. Celebrate special days in the workplace. International Women’s day, Harmony Day, National Close the Gap day, Refugee Week, Mental Health Week, National Carers Week, and many, many more. Whichever ones you choose make sure you celebrate in a meaningful way, and consider giving some cash to a relevant organisation or charity. Also, get your staff involved in suggesting days that are important to them, and in running the events. Your staff will come up with ideas that will amaze you.
7. Educate your staff in diversity and inclusion. Allow people to attend courses that may not seem to be directly work related. A course in project management, MS Excel or customer service is easier to justify in the (usually small) training budget. However perhaps a cultural immersion experience in a local immigrant community, or learning mental health first aid, or even how to say hello in a dozen languages can bring something new into the workplace, which leads on to…
8. Volunteering. Giving a day or two of each employee’s time to a volunteering activity each year is both a great way to give back to the community and a way of experiencing diversity. Teaching computer skills at a community centre, helping a non-profit with their bookwork, fundraise for the guide dogs, or just offer to take some nursing home residents out shopping. Let your people find the causes and opportunities that mean something to them and then encourage them to share their stories in a staff newsletter.
9. Empower your managers and team leaders. Sometimes decisions need to be made on the spot, for example a parent or carer needs to leave the workplace for an emergency, someone with a physical disability needs some time for regular appointments, or someone living with a mental health condition just isn’t up to coming in today. Encourage your managers to work with these individuals to develop plans that don’t unduly penalise your staff. Perhaps part time or even job sharing options can be offered, be creative.
10. Finally, have a diversity policy/plan and make it live. Targets, measures and statistics are fine, and can be an important way of recording the great work you are doing. However, seeing a happy, diverse and engaged staff are the real aim of any diversity plan. Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be a chore but rather something that is celebrated and lived in your workplace every day.
11. Bonus point!
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