You may have heard the term “diverse and inclusive employment” bandied about … but what exactly is it and how should it be done?
A diverse and inclusive workplace is defined as one that makes everyone – regardless of who they are or what they do for the business – feel equally involved in and supported in all areas of the workplace.
Diversity and inclusion describes both the makeup of a workforce, as well as the policies and processes used to remove barriers, and ensure that every employee has equal access to opportunities and support in their workplace.
We recently did a signatory check-in with Robyn Mathews, Education Team Leader at Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS) to hear her insights, given the recent success they have had with helping to create diverse and inclusive employment programs within the health, food processing and child care industries.
LCMS is a leading not for profit multicultural organisation that aims to support people from multicultural backgrounds to be seen, heard, able to prosper and become part of the community.
As a GROW Bendigo signatory, LCMS has been able to collaborate with a number of Bendigo businesses – including Spotless and JL King – to create industry-customised educational and employment programs which have enabled those from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds to find suitable and rewarding employment.
“What we have learned is that a willingness to listen, learn and adapt, whether it be the employer, prospective employee or support agencies, is the key to success,” explained Robyn.
So what does this look like? How can employers, agencies and individuals seeking employment create the ideal environment to ensure the successful implementation of a diverse and inclusive employment program?
EMPLOYERS need to invest in cultural change
Employers looking to increase the diversity of the workforce, may need to consider preparing and training their staff to work with people who have a different way of thinking to their current staff compliment.
For example in the case of employing job seekers from multicultural backgrounds, employers may need to:
- Reconsider their recruitment practices – what worked before, might not be working now, especially if diversification of the workforce is the goal;
- Provide cross-cultural training for staff;
- Instill zero tolerance towards discrimination by addressing it in an educational and positive way; and
- Do language training which includes the best ways to communicate with second language English speakers; and advice on how to help candidates learn English on the job.
AGENCIES/SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS need to interrogate their approach
Employment agencies or support organisations need to ensure that when approaching finding employment for persistently disadvantaged communities, they have a full understanding what will and won’t work for those communities.
This means ensuring that the programs are:
- Learner-focussed – for example, the CALD community come from very different backgrounds and have potentially not been exposed to concepts like tax, super, rights and responsibilities, health and safety and so on. Providing this foundational knowledge helps level the playing field for them; and
- Play to the strengths of specific cohorts in terms of their skills, interests and cultural values.
JOB SEEKERS need to be open to learning
Often a significant barrier to employment for job seekers, is knowledge gaps, whether it be skills-based or experience-based. Being willing to recognise and address these gaps reduces anxiety and increases confidence.
“It’s about equity and taking into account that some people have come from very challenging circumstances and are having to adjust to enormous change in their lives, so need time and support to overcome their own specific barriers,” explains Robyn.
“It has been fantastic to watch LCMS work with other passionate signatories to achieve some outstanding social and economic outcomes for Bendigo,” says Rob Murphy, GROW Bendigo Project Manager.
We look forward to seeing their example lead to other Bendigo businesses, community organisations and individuals getting involved with GROW initiatives, to drive even more wonderful employment outcomes for the Bendigo community,” Rob concluded.
If you would like to find out more about being part of the GROW Bendigo program, go here.