Is under-the-cover exclusion driving away valuable employees and impacting performance? Effective strategies for managing diversity in the workplace can promote harmony and innovation.
As proud Australians, we are pleased that we belong to one of the most diverse nations in the world. Australians speak more than 300 languages and Australia includes more than 270 ethnicities.
However, there is a disturbing paradox that exists in the typical Australian workplace. As organisations worldwide look to reaping the benefits of diversity in the workplace, undercurrents of discrimination are undermining a similar effort.
Although there are stringent Australian laws that curb exclusion in workplaces, many organisations still practice subtle exclusion. It may not be reported officially but discrimination does exist and impacts the day-to-day working as well as the overarching goals of the organisation.
Unaddressed Inclusivity Issues May Have Serious Repercussions
Australian law forbids any discrimination based on colour, gender, ethnicity or race, sex, disability, age, and sexual orientation. Yet, sadly, workers often experience exclusion on these grounds in their workplaces in several ways.
In other words, just because exclusion is illegal doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
How do you, as a leader, spot discrimination – or subtle exclusion – in the workplace? More importantly, what can you do about it?
Exclusion can be manifested in the form of small – but very pointed – forms of microaggressions. These could include insensitive verbal and non-verbal communication. For instance, when a worker of a non-white ethnicity is promoted, it often attracts speculation of the wrong kind. Many feel that he or she may have been promoted due to affirmative action policies rather than competence.
Team members belonging to minority groups often experience invalidation of their competencies. In fact, many are accused of manipulating the ‘race card’ in order to climb the corporate ladder. It’s therefore very important for management to prohibit any activity that provokes, intimidates or insults employees on the basis of their skin colour, ethnicity or race.
Subtle Examples of Exclusion in the Workplace
Exclusion (and it’s sibling, discrimination) occurs in several ways even before an employee has been hired. For example, many organisations reject candidates on the basis of their name. If your name doesn’t sound Anglo-Saxon, you may not get an interview call at all – no matter how suitable you are for the role.
Similarly, verbal or social media comments, cartoons, stereotype jokes, intimidation or harassment of employees on the basis of their background counts as exclusion. In many organisations, there is an invisible glass ceiling that cannot be breached if you belong to a minority group or belong to the female gender.
How Can You Address Issues Related to Diversity?
Strong, proactive and inclusive leadership can counteract exclusion and promote employee wellbeing. Formulate clear, unambiguous workplace policies and procedures and deal with problems quickly and fairly. Take swift action against offenders and always train your employees to be respectful, courteous and professional to their mates.
As one of the most reputed diversity consulting firms in Australia, Symmetra offers reliable consulting services regarding workplace diversity policy in Australia and develops and implements diversity policies in the organisation.
Contact our seasoned experts to find out more about our result-oriented HR consulting services.