Political correctness arguments against diversity miss the point: DCA

In 2017 businesses must focus on D&I outcomes, not just activity, says the Diversity Council of Australia

Political correctness arguments against diversity miss the point: DCA
tralian businesses embracing D&I continue to reap the rewards, while others in the community want to ignore the benefits, according to Diversity Council Australia (DCA).

DCA’s CEO, Lisa Annese said that all the evidence points towards diversity leading to better performance, better innovation, better engagement and better wellbeing for individuals.
“As organisations, we should always be trying to strive for a more diverse workforce,” she said.

“Many are introducing innovative programs, setting targets and identifying senior leaders to champion change,” said Annese.
In 2016 there was an increase in ASX-listed companies of all sizes adopting a diversity policy. Moreover, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency reports some improvements in employer action on gender equality.

However, Annese added that 2016 saw the term ‘political correctness’ make a comeback as an insult pointed at those who were trying to drive positive change.

“Deriding efforts at D&I by labelling it ‘PC’ flies in the face of all the evidence that it is actually about delivering business benefits,” said Annese.

Businesses must recognise that it’s not about being ‘PC’ but simply about workplace respect and dignity and being polite.

“The business sector in Australia has moved way beyond debate about D&I and is getting on with the job,” said Annese.

 “Robust strategies with measureable objectives and clear accountabilities are still the best way to create more diverse workplaces. But it’s also important to focus on inclusion as this will enable you to harness all of the benefits of that diversity.”

The DCA identified the following challenges for business in 2017:

Stay the course: Organisations’ commitment to D&I should be maintained and expanded as the evidence continues to show it is good for business.

Focus on diversity AND inclusion: Diversity refers to the mix of people in your organisation. Inclusion occurs when a diversity of people (i.e. from different ages, gender, cultural background etc.) can contribute their talents, skills and energies to the organisation. Improved performance and wellbeing of organisations, teams and individuals requires both. And inclusive leadership capabilities are critical in this.

Aim for outcomes, not just activity. Policies and programs are a good start but they have to lead to better outcomes. Measurable objectives work, especially when they are transparent and where they hold individual’s accountable for achieving them.

Consider intersectionality: People are not one-dimensional and considering all elements of identity can signal that different approaches are sometimes required.

Look at gender and beyond: Organisations consistently rate gender as a high diversity priority but neglecting other diversity dimensions will mean you will miss out on talents and opportunities. 

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