A tasty way to promote diversity

by Stephanie Zillman18 Mar 2013

Lunch rooms across Australia will come alive this week as workers delight in sharing the foods from their cultural background with their colleagues as part of a national campaign promoting diversity.

Today marks the official first day of the Scanlon Foundation initiative – running 18-24 March – which calls for a celebration of diversity in Australia. The event is touted as a simple, delicious and free way to bring increased cultural awareness to the workplace. Workers are invited to share with their colleagues a plate of food which represents their cultural background. Last year more than 175,000 people participated, and the campaign organisers said sharing a multi-cultural lunch promotes a non-threatening environment for sharing cultural stories.

Deloitte is one organisation which has enjoyed participating in the campaign, and HR director Alec Bashinsky told HC it will again be hosting a number of lunches. The event is a great opportunity to internally highlight the organisation’s commitment to cultural diversity, Bashinsky commented, and added that while the event is a great way for organisations to bring diversity to the surface, it shouldn’t be just a one-off event. HR must then build on the endeavour through actions, or it risks being seen as paying lip service to cultural diversity, rather than really being committed to increasing multiculturalism in workplaces.

Another high-profile organisation to be involved is ANZ – managing director of retail distribution Mark Hand said their participation allows for a more inclusive workforce and helps to better understand and connect with their customers. “A diverse workforce gives you a great advantage because your people better reflect and understand the needs of your customers in existing, new and international markets,” Hand said. “Having a workforce of people with different backgrounds and wide experiences also leads to more innovative thinking and informed decision making for our business,” he added.

A Taste of Harmony officially runs from 18-24 March, coinciding with National Harmony Day on 21 March. Information can be found at tasteofharmony.org.au

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