A new study has found that New Zealanders are working in one of the most tolerant workforces worldwide, while Australian workplaces are falling behind.
The Randstad Workmonitor report found that more than three-quarters of Kiwi workers believe their company has an open and inclusive culture, while 88% of companies value diversity in the workplace.
Across the Tasman, the number of Australians subjected to racial, gender or age discrimination in the workplace is higher than the global averages.
Researchers also found that New Zealand workplaces were supportive of gender equality.
Just 16% of Kiwi participants said they had been subjected to gender discrimination – a rate that is significantly lower than the global average of 21%. A quarter of Australian respondents said the same.
When it came to religious diversity, just 9% of Kiwi workers said they had been victims of religious discrimination, while 16% of Aussie workers said they had been subjected to it.
New Zealand was also found to be among the most tolerant when it came to having workforces consisting of employees from various racial backgrounds.
Just 10% of Kiwi workers said they had been subject to racial discrimination at work, compared to 20% in Australia – a statistic that is 3% higher than the global average.
“It’s great to see New Zealand as a place that recognises diverse cultures, which can be attributed in no small part to the steady inflow of immigrants into New Zealand for more than two centuries,” said Penni Hlaca, head of client solutions at Randstad New Zealand.
“The fact that Kiwis love to travel abroad and embrace new cultures, provides us with a competitive edge on the increasingly global employment landscape.”
Hlaca added that the results were “simply a reflection of New Zealand culture”.
“But the key is to not get complacent, and whilst we are stacking up well on a global scale for acceptance, we should continue to strive to set the benchmark as a country where nobody feels discriminated against,” she said.
“New Zealand has a proud history of embracing diversity,” Hlaca added.
“In addition to being the first country in the world to give woman the right to vote, we were also one of the first countries to allow same-sex couples to marry – something Australia is yet to implement.”
Steve Shepherd, Employment Market Analyst at Randstad, said that although both employers and employees have widely accepted that diversity is good for business, these findings show there is clearly still some way to go when it comes to instilling a true, accepting company culture.
“Part of the reason for increasingly diverse workforces is globalisation,” he explained.
“In fact, the proportion of Australians who were born overseas has hit its highest point in 120 years, being 28% of our population.
“There is currently an untapped opportunity for Australian employers to embrace the wide range of cultures, experiences and skillsets in our society for the benefit of their workforce.”
This was reflected in another of Randstad’s findings: 73% of Kiwi workers did not see sexual orientation as any kind of issue, compared to 58% globally, 69% in Australia, and 54% in the US.
Just 9% of New Zealanders said they had been subject to discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual orientation, compared to a global average of 15%.
Kiwi workers were also found to face one of the lowest rates of age discrimination, with just under one in five Kiwis having faced age discrimination at work, compared to a global average of 26%, 27% of Australian participants, and 28% of US participants.
“By educating employees to embrace the differences they have with colleagues – be it gender, race, culture or religion – teams will be able to identify each person’s strengths and motivations and utilise them to boost efficiencies,” Shepherd added.
“Ultimately, a company’s most important asset is their staff, and insights provided by the Randstad Workmonitor report show that 84% of Aussies specifically review a company’s reputation when looking for a job.
“In Australia’s tight labour market, the ability to attract, inspire and retain a team of talented and skilled individuals will give companies a competitive edge.”