Celebrating Inclusion is now more important than ever

Posted on 06 Nov 2023

By Lisa Annese, CEO, Diversity Council Australia

Workplace inclusion diversity

After months of so much division in our lives., it's time to take a moment to celebrate unity and work toward a future where everyone can feel accepted, valued and included, writes Diversity Council Australia CEO, Lisa Annese.

This week is Inclusion at Work Week, a celebration of all the great work Australian organisations do to foster a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

DCA started this week-long national celebration last year because we wanted to highlight the real-life difference inclusion makes in Australian workplaces and recognise the effort organisations and individuals put in to foster an environment where everyone can belong.

Recent research has painted a worrying picture of the state of belonging and connection in Australia. The Scanlon Foundation’s 2023 Australian Cohesion Index found all four key indicators for belonging are in decline.

The report found Australians, particularly young people and those from marginalised groups, are feeling increasingly distrustful of the government, less connected to their communities, less financially secure and more at risk of poor mental health.

On top of this, one-in-three adults from non-English speaking backgrounds also reported experiencing discrimination based on their skin colour, ethnic origin or religion in the last 12 months.

While this data is alarming, the report points out that we can address this increase in exclusion by fostering more inclusive behaviour that values and celebrates diversity, counters behaviour that seeks to reinforce prejudice, and creates opportunities for increased connection and friendship across groups.

DCA’s upcoming 2023-2024 Inclusion@Work Index reflects these findings at a workforce level. Our data showed that people employed by organisations that actively work to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace report feeling a greater sense of connection and belonging than those who work for organisations that aren’t engaged in D&I efforts.

The Index found that workers in inclusive teams were six times more likely to report work had a positive impact on their mental health, 10 times more likely to be very satisfied, and five times less likely to experience discrimination and/or harassment.

"We know that celebrating a specific day or even a week is not enough to create an inclusive work environment, but it’s a good way to start a conversation and raise awareness."

Inclusion was also shown to have significant benefits for business performance and profit. The data revealed that inclusive teams are more than twice as likely to work extra hard, almost 10 times more likely to be innovative, eight times more likely to work effectively together and four times more likely to provide excellent customer service.

What’s more, Australians place a high value on inclusion. The Scanlon Foundation’s report found that 78 per cent of Australians believe diversity, specifically multi-culturalism, is good for Australia.

This is also reflected in the workplace, with the Inclusion@Work Index showing three-quarters of respondents support their organisation taking action to create a workplace that is diverse and inclusive.

This is particularly true for marginalised workers, and those newly entering the workforce - proving that the more inclusive your organisation is, the easier it is to attract and retain new and previously untapped talent.

Lisa Annese
Diversity Council Australia CEO, Lisa Annese.

The above data is just a glimpse of the myriad benefits inclusion has for people, workplaces and communities. It seems obvious that treating others with fairness, dignity and respect makes for a more prosperous, socially cohesive nation, but at a time when Australians are feeling more excluded than ever, it seems imperative that we reinforce this message.

That is why Inclusion at Work Week is so important. Workplaces are a microcosm of our broader communities, and the way we treat others and are treated ourselves has far-reaching knock-on effects.

At DCA we emphasise the importance of celebrating D&I days of significance not only because they’re a great way to raise awareness, but they also provide an opportunity for learning and reflection.

Diversity days offer a chance to connect with different people across your organisation and our research has found that they actually make people from minority groups feel more visible.

DCA’s D&I days calendar is one of our most accessed resources, so when we realised that of the 80 days listed not one of them was dedicated to celebrating the powerful impacts of fostering more inclusive workplaces we decided to take action.

We know that celebrating a specific day or even a week is not enough to create an inclusive work environment, but it’s a good way to start a conversation and raise awareness.

Our inaugural Inclusion at Work Week saw countless people take to social media to showcase all the effort their colleagues put into making their workplaces more inclusive and this year promises to have an even wider impact.

This week, I encourage you to reflect on your organisation’s D&I efforts, celebrate your wins, and work on ways to do even better. You can get involved by posting to social media using the #InclusionAtWorkWeek hashtag, writing a blog, hosting an event, or even just starting a conversation.

After a year of so much division, let’s take this moment to celebrate unity and work toward a future where everyone can feel accepted, valued and included.

Find out how you can get involved here.

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