Australia and New Zealand need to address diverse workforce says report.

Diversify Now

New research has sought to ‘diversify diversity’ to expose the key diversity and inclusion considerations impacting the careers of underrepresented demographic groups in Australia and New Zealand.

The survey of over 1,000 people by recruiting experts Hays for its FY 2018-19 Diversity & Inclusion Report shows a shortage of diverse role models, organisational cultures that do not always support diversity and inclusion, perceptions of unfair barriers to career progression and mental health issues.

“Our findings reveal some encouraging signs of progress, but the overall picture tells us we need to accelerate the pace of change to achieve genuine workplace diversity and inclusion,” says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand.

Leadership

On the positive side, 42 per cent of respondents said their line manager is female, up from 39 per cent in 2017. Yet few respondents have a line manager who is of BAME heritage (6 per cent), identifies as LGBTIQ+ (2 per cent), is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (1 per cent), is Maori (1 per cent) or who lives with a disclosed disability (1 per cent).

This is significant when 50 per cent of survey respondents said their organisation’s leaders have a bias towards people who look, think or act like them.

Meanwhile, only 46 per cent of survey respondents overall trust their organisations’ leaders (senior manager level and above) to deliver change on the diversity and inclusion agenda. Therefore there is a trust-deficit between employees and their organisations’ leaders.

Just two in five (38 per cent) survey respondents said their employer takes every opportunity to create a workplace culture that is more diverse and inclusive.

Furthermore, while an inclusive culture is supported through diversity training for people managers, only 34 per cent of respondents said people managers are given training to help them ensure diversity and inclusion support. Diversity training is lowest in two particular demographic areas: mature-age (32 per cent) and people of BAME heritage (31 per cent).

Talent management

Another illuminating finding was that 83 per cent of respondents living with a disclosed disability, 77 per cent of women, 67 per cent of those who identify LGBTIQ+ and 64 per cent of mature-age people say their chances for career progression have been limited because of their disability, gender, sexual orientation or age.

Less than one-quarter (24 per cent) feel their organisation actively works to develop under-represented groups into leadership roles.

Meanwhile, when we consider career management and people’s ability to maintain their professional and personal responsibilities, access to flexible working is an important factor. Yet it was telling that only one half (52 per cent) of survey respondents said their organisation actively promotes flexible and agile working as the default working practise and supports it overtly.

Almost four in five (78 per cent) said they were aware of mental health considerations in their current or previous workplace. Several demographic groups were more likely to have observed such issues: 81 per cent of women (compared to 74 per cent of men), and 92 per cent of both people living with a disclosed disability and those who identify as LGBTIQ+.

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