Ensuring a work-life balance and seeking diverse talent is no longer exclusively the domain of HR – for the most forward-thinking and successful organisations, the issue is nothing short of a critical business imperative firmly on the boardroom agenda.
At a forum of HR, workplace relations and business executives hosted in Canberra this week by the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten told a packed room that smart employers are leveraging diversity for increased productivity.
“Smart employers know that attracting and retaining talent from all sections of the community including people with a disability, Indigenous Australians, mature-age workers and people from non-English speaking backgrounds, as well as offering family-friendly working arrangements, will enable them to reap the benefits of higher staff engagement and lower turnover,” Shorten said. He added that these key hiring decisions must be driven by innovative leaders at all levels of organisations.
The right to request flexible working in the Fair Work Act and clauses for EBAs to assist employers who wish to offer flexible working arrangements are examples of how diversity and workplace relations concerns can intersect to benefit employers and employees alike, Nareen Young from DCA also commented.
Shorten commended Australian employers who recognised the benefits of employing a diverse workforce and urged those lagging to embrace diversity in their organisational culture. “As the economy continues to change so too does the identity of the workforce and yet we know that prejudices exist in Australia. Ultimately, there is a clear business case for employing a diverse workforce and if we want our economy and businesses to continue to grow, we have to maximise the potential of those who are willing and able to work,” he said.
The way in which the current workplace laws aid diversity outcomes was also discussed, and the positive practical impacts the Fair Work Act has had on workplace flexibility was noted.“[Employers] understand that flexibility will continue to be an important issue for employees and therefore key for them in relation to employee attraction, engagement and retention,” Dianne Banks, from law firm Gilbert + Tobin said.