Australian companies promote workplace diversity

From the Discovery Diversity campaign.

Some of Australia's major companies are taking part in a national television campaign to promote the economic benefits of having a culturally diverse workforce.

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

Some of Australia's major companies are taking part in a national television campaign to promote the economic benefits of having a culturally diverse workforce.

The Discovery Diversity campaign has been developed by the Migration Council of Australia.

Greg Dyett reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

"We believe cultural diversity at ACCOR is critical to our business. Cultural diversity at Optus is good business. We're part of a company that has over half a billion customers globally. Cultural diversity is one of the most important success factors for the Commonwealth Bank. Diversity is massively important for a company like Santos, first of all it makes it a joy to work in a company with diverse cultures."

Some of Australia's biggest employers are talking up the benefits of having a diverse workforce in the national TV campaign developed by the Migration Council of Australia.

The council's chief executive is Carla Wilshire.

"All the evidence show that a culturally diverse workforce and that diversity in general really helps in terms of innovation and in terms of diversity of thought and that's a fantastic business asset and one that Australia should be capitalising on."

The Asia-Pacific Chair of the professional services firm EY, Michael Wachtel, is one of the key faces of the campaign and a strong advocate of diversity in the workplace.

"Bringing diverse backgrounds, people, perspectives to any issue gives you a better potential for better outcomes, in fact, in our case for our clients. But if you think of EY as a global organization with over a 190 thousand people in 150 countries, if we were not able to have a diverse workforce in Australia we wouldn't necessarily be reflecting the reality of the global marketplace that we operate in."

The campaign has been launched after surveys showing Australia is not reaping the benefits of its cultural diversity.

The Chief Executive of the Diversity Council of Australia, Lisa Annese, says diverse workforces are good for the bottom line.

"The more diverse your team is, the more culturally diverse and gender diverse, you actually are able to deliver better outcomes and these can be clearly identified in return on investment and increases in share price and those sorts of things. So, organisations with more diverse boards actually perform better financially than organisations with homogenous boards."

Lisa Annese says one of the challenges for Australia is its prevailing narrow definition of what leadership success looks like.

"If you were to ask groups of executives what defines merit, they would probably define merit through their own lens and so what happens is you have a stereotype of what leadership looks like and that naturally excludes all other people who are different from that dominant group. So it has an impact on people from non-Anglo and non-Celtic backgrounds, it also has an impact on other non diverse groups such as women, people with disabilities, people from the LGBTI community, people outside the desired age group range etc."












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