It is hard to believe that people still think inclusion is optional. It is even harder to believe that in some workplaces people are being excluded or feel discriminated against. A recent study suggests that more than one in five Australian workers has experienced discrimination or harassment in the last year. I find that particularly disappointing and look to the leaders within those workplaces. We as leaders need to set the tone and the behavioural standards within our businesses and then hold our people to account.
The Diversity Council Australia recently surveyed a selection of 3000 Australia workers in order to gain feedback on inclusion in the workplace and the results confirm that Australian workers are 19 times more satisfied in diverse workplaces. This should not come as a surprise to anyone. Satisfied people deliver better outcomes for our customers more frequently resulting in better business results. The survey results clearly affirm what we already knew to be true – that when it comes to inclusion, there are countless benefits for organisations, their customers and their employees.
With the evidence so clearly confirming the advantages an inclusive workplace can offer, it is now up to us, as leaders, to put this knowledge into action by creating more inclusive workplaces. We need to create workplace environments that value the differences and diversity that each individual brings to the workplace. We must look to harness the different perspectives that different experiences, backgrounds and cultures can bring to our work. As leaders, we need to ensure that all our people are treated fairly, respectfully, receive the same opportunities and are able to contribute regardless of their background. It is even more important that our own behaviours are seen as fair, respectful and inclusive. We must lead from the front and be prepared to act when we see behaviours that are not fair, respectful and inclusive.
While the study above refers to some alarming statistics, it is also worth noting that the study reaffirms that employees are 10 times more likely to be highly effective, and nine times more likely to innovate when working in an inclusive environment and team. They are also four times more likely to stay with their employer in the coming year.
So, now, with this research to support what we already understand to be an important business imperative, it’s time to start some conversations that lead to more inclusiveness across all levels in all organisations. Do not miss the opportunity to maximise the levels of engagement and effectiveness of your team and remember, it is up to us to lead by example. As Stuart Milk, an American political activist said ‘We are less when we do not include everyone’. So take the lead and be inclusive.