Closing the Indigenous employment gap in corporate Australia

by Iain Hopkins19 Mar 2013

Organisations need to more proactive in taking into account the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to a new report by a peak diversity body.

The Diversity Council of Australia released its latest report into the outlook of indigenous employment in Australia ahead on to National Close the Gap Day, which falls on Thursday 21 March.

DCA CEO Nareen Young said that the research shows many key Indigenous engagement positions in the corporate sector are still being filled by non-Indigenous people, and new approaches to Indigenous community engagement by the corporate sector are urgently needed.

Key research findings:

  • Engagement with Indigenous communities doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time to build successful relationships and needs to be treated seriously and be given appropriate resources. Too often it is short term and project driven.
  • Organisations that fail to make their intentions clear to Indigenous communities can do significant damage to their reputation, and it can take years to rebuild trust.
  • Organisations still have work to do to create inclusive working environments where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel safe to identify as such.
  • Insufficient attention has been given to measuring the progress of engagement strategies and picking the right metrics to do this, for example sustainable careers versus short term appointments, and measures of respect.

Diversity Council Australia partnered with Reconciliation Australia and Lend Lease on the research report, Closing the Work Gap in Corporate Australia, and involved interviews with Indigenous thought leaders, and engagement and employment practitioners. Young commented that the research findings demonstrated that organisations are yet to fully capitalise on Indigenous talent.

“The unemployment rate for the Indigenous population is more than three times higher than that for the non-Indigenous population so we have a long way to go to close the work gap for Indigenous Australians. Our research gives valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t when it comes to engaging with Indigenous people and communities,” Young said.

Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner added that corporate Australia has a critical role to play. “Indigenous employment is a key social determinant of health. To address this, the report demonstrates corporate Australia must continue to invest in building relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, focus on effective engagement strategies and create culturally safe work environments,” said Commissioner Gooda.

Related Story: Check out page 46 of the latest e-mag with HR Director of the Year Rose Clements on the cover for a feature article on a new generation of opportunities in indigenous employment.


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