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Diversity no longer just ‘nice to have’

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HC Online | 05 Jul 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
The days of instituting a diversity policy for the ‘nice to have’ factor are long over; it’s now nothing short of a critical business imperative.

  • Shane Higgins | 05 Jul 2012, 03:15 PM Agree 0
    A diverse workforce is a healthy workforce and smart, forward thinking employers worked this out some time ago. In the meantime we have companies saying we can't find workers, largely due to the fact that they are still looking where they have always looked, still doing what they have always done to recruit and retain workers. They haven't yet worked out that those times are gone. At we have over 18,000 registered jobseekers over the age of 45 looking for work. They have a huge range of skills and attributes that make them good employees including life skills, mentoring, problem solving and even basics like reliability. Companies that aren't including older workers, indigenous, disabled and culturally and linguistically diverse people in the mix of applicants are not giving themselves the opportunity to find the best employee.

    There is no doubt that flexibility will impact enormously on an organisation's ability to find workers. Companies that don't offer appropriate flexibility in the challenging environment of skill and labour shortages will always struggle to find good workers.
  • Malcolm King | 05 Jul 2012, 06:05 PM Agree 0
    Shane is 100 per cent right. Diversity is important but flexibility for older workers to drive corporate and national productivity will be mandatory.

    Currently there are no allowances in the Fair Work Act to allow older workers to work in mixed modes. That will change. The time will also come when the EBAs change to recognise the wants and needs of the transitioning boomer demographic.

  • Richard Greiner | 06 Jul 2012, 02:58 PM Agree 0
    I'm sure sex and gender diverse people were an accidental oversight or were intended to be included under the culturally diverse.

    Diversity is the key to long term survival and growth in just about anything. Monoculture is like putting all one's eggs in one basket, is high risk in the short term and is certain to fail in the long term.

    I once managed a military intelligence cell with not only cultural, age, sex and gender diversity but also psychosocial diversity, i.e. bipolar workers, sufferers of depression, workers with family tragedies, workers with stress and anger difficulties and so on. We bonded so well as a team, produced fantastic work and had sometimes an 'electric' vibe going in the workplace.

    The keys are tolerance, engagement, inclusiveness and preventing dogmatism amongst workers.
  • David J. Hilt | 11 Jul 2012, 11:13 PM Agree 0
    You guys really need to think more critically about what you're saying before you say it. Think about cause and effect - just because the top companies are doing it, does not mean that it is best business practice (it could be quite easily because they have enough fat to be able to do this sort of stuff).
    There are limits to diversity. Some of it is good, depending on the environment, sometimes it can just add another layer of unnecessary complexity. To add a real life example of where diversity caused all sorts of problems was when the Allies were moving up through Italy during World War 2. Some of the troops wouldn't fight on certain days, wouldn't eat certain foods, and while some of the troops had different weapons (making it harder to resupply them).
    The Germans on the other hand were homogeneous (mostly the same weapons and were prepared to fight everyday of the week). The diversity of the Allies in Italy just made a tough job even tougher, they succeeded despite of their diversity (through weight of numbers and just bogging the Germans down in others parts of Europe). Businesses can't really afford that sort of tactic and need to be nimble. Diversity, in some instances, can hamper such efforts.
    Not to be completely negative, diversity can help in getting a range of perspectives in teams. However, that depends on the structure of the team and whether employee participation is encouraged/needed (eg. a team of highly skilled analysts), as opposed to where employee participation is not needed (eg. a team of call centre staff that can be easily replaced).
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