Are CEOs ‘walking the talk’ on diversity?

NZ organsiations must develop a strategic approach to retain and empower a diverse workforce

Are CEOs ‘walking the talk’ on diversity?

More needs to be done to acknowledge the benefits of diversity and prevent discrimination in the workforce, according to Shay Peters, New Zealand Director of Robert Walters.

Indeed, Robert Walters’ Embracing Difference: How to recruit, retain and empower a diverse workforce research shows that 82% of respondents believe discrimination still exists in today’s workplace.

Even though senior management talk about the importance of diversity it often isn’t implemented across the organisation.

The research found 36% of respondents said the benefits of diversity weren’t fully understood by their organisation’s senior management and 53% were unaware of their organisation’s diversity strategy, if one exists at all.

Peters added that organisations need positive role models and leaders who embrace diversity, inspire others to follow, and are aware of where discrimination can occur.

Moreover, the report shows that diversity positively impacts staff engagement, skill development, creativity and innovation, and the bottom line.

“It’s commonsense in many ways – people want to work in an engaging and interesting workplace and diversity plays a big part in this. Businesses need to step up and modernise their recruitment strategies to actively pursue


The survey also shows the number one obstacle that prevents an organisation from achieving diversity is when managers hire like-minded people instead of a diverse mix.

The next most common is employers failing to identify or manage unconscious bias.

Additionally, the three most common ways discrimination is experienced or observed are in the hiring process, remuneration and career development, according to the research.

Another area the survey explores is gender diversity, with research showing that fewer men than women were aware of the gender pay gap that exists in New Zealand.

“Gender diversity is key at all levels of an organisation. There is plenty that organisations can be doing to facilitate diverse workforces, such as creating flexible working practices and implementing career progression strategies,”” said Peters.

“We challenge organisations to work towards an inclusive, balanced workforce.

“Organisations must look at where they are in their diversity journey, develop a strategic approach to retain and empower a diverse workforce, and most importantly put the strategy in to action.

According to the respondents, the top three most impactful strategies to address workforce diversity are recruitment processes to mitigate unconscious bias, flexible working arrangements for parents, and a diversity strategy that is clearly and widely communicated to all staff.

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