Diversity is an important driver of creativity, innovation and productivity. A diverse workforce can help to open up international business opportunities, as well as help serve to the needs of a wider range of customers.
Developed by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, the 10 Keys to an Inclusive Workplace offers 10 ideas for making your organization more culturally inclusive.
- Key 1: View cultural diversity as a potential business driver
- Key 2: Learn how cultural differences can affect individual and team effectiveness
- Key 3: Search for the best local talent
- Key 4: Review your hiring practices
- Key 5: Make sure your new employees get a good start
- Key 6: Help your diverse team build the skills they need to achieve their business goals
- Key 7: Identify high potential in your diverse workforce
- Key 8: Have a strategy to become inclusive
- Key 9: You cannot build an inclusive workplace on your own
- Key 10: Know where you’re going
Key 1: View cultural diversity as a potential business driver
More than 15,000 City of Stirling residents have recently arrived from overseas and settled in Australia within the last 5 years. This ranks the city as the local government with the largest migration intake in Western Australia, and puts it in the top 10 in Australia.
Building a newcomer-inclusive workplace is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. A culturally diverse workforce helps you connect with localand international markets and is proven to be more innovative.
- Review your current workforce and target market. Understanding how well your current workforce reflects your current market is the first step to identifying how cultural diversity can benefit your business.
- Consider where you want to be. Do you want to be more innovative, improve your customer service, or reach new markets locally or overseas?
- Identify how a culturally diverse workforce can help you reach your goals. Consider whether you have the necessary talent to find innovative solutions, to better serve customers locally or overseas, or to access new markets.
Key 2: Learn how cultural differences can affect individual and team effectiveness
Learn how to identify cultural differences in your workplace and turn them into an asset rather than an obstacle.
- Develop self-awareness. Understand your own bias and how it might influence your behaviour in the workplace. Harvard has developed a great free test to help you understand your own bias.
- Understand different cultural perspectives. Learn to stop and reflect when faced with a challenging situation, and identify if cultural differences are involved.
- Adapt your approach. If a workplace situation makes you feel uncomfortable, avoid passing judgement on your colleagues. Approach the situation from a place of cultural understanding, and address it in a professional manner.
The Kaleidoscope Initiative will be running organisational training in 2018. Register your interest
Key 3: Search for the best local talent
Where you source your talent plays a major role in who you hire and is integral to your team’s success.
- Identify the main skills that you need. Make sure that these include the expertise required to tap into today’s diverse and global marketplace.
- Widen your search. Make sure you post your job ads in a variety of areas, including agencies which help newcomers and professional immigrant networks. (link to this)
- Recognise foreign credentials. Access foreign credential recognition services and develop a process for assessing candidates’ foreign credentials.
- Social enterprise Refugee and Migrant Talent connects employers to migrant and refugee jobseekers through an online site.
Key 4: Review your hiring practices
You may be using out-of-date hiring practices which were used before cultural diversity was such a significant factor. Nowadays you must make sure that you do not exclude high-quality candidates due to unconscious bias.
- Review your job descriptions to be specific.For example, instead of:
‘Excellent communication skills’ ask for:
‘The ability to write concise research reports or respond to customer enquiries professionally’.
Being more precise with your requirements, means candidates will be able to address them directly.
- Review your interview questions for clarity, regardless of the candidate’s cultural background. Develop specific questions. For example:
‘Tell me about your work style and preference’ becomes:
‘What type of reporting structure are you looking for?’
Social enterprise Covocate explains how employers can use blind recruitment to reduce the impact of unconscious bias.
Key 5: Make sure your new employees get a good start
You invested in the hiring process, so protect to that investment you will need a comprehensive induction program. Learning the unwritten rules of a new organisation can be a challenging process no matter where you are from. This can be particularly difficult if it is your first job in Australia. Support your new employees so they can become more productive.
- Pair new employees with a buddy or mentor. This can help them to learn the unwritten rules of your team and organisation. Make sure you also support the buddy or mentor in developing a broad cultural understanding.
- The Kaleidoscope Initiative runs a workshop on ‘Understanding Australian workplace culture’. Register your interest in running this session at your office or send your new employees to the next course.
- Make honest and constructive feedback part of the induction process. This way, your new employee can learn and develop in order to succeed.
Key 6: Help your diverse team build the skills they need to achieve their business goals
Diversity in the workplace is a reality and will change the dynamics of your team. Developing their cultural competency is the key to success in the global marketplace. Provide your team with the training and support they need to succeed.
- Provide cultural competency training
- Develop the means to share knowledge. Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences. Foster formal and informal communities to help team members share their expertise with each other.
- Provide opportunities to develop cultural awareness. Encourage your team to take advantage of cross-cultural learning opportunities. By mentoring skilled newcomers, your team members can learn more about cultural differences while practising their cross-cultural communication skills.
Key 7: Identify high potential in your diverse workforce
There is a significant cost when employees become disengaged or leave the company. Identifying your high-potential talent and providing them with the opportunity to grow and develop is important to the success of your business. Yet, cultural differences can mean that you are missing high-potential talent who could play a much bigger role in your workplace.
- Define what you mean by high-potential. Cultural differences can come into play when defining leadership and other core values in your business. Make sure you are clear on what you are looking for in your organisation’s future leaders.
- Communicate the organisation’s values clearly to your team. Make sure that there is a common understanding of those values and the behaviour expected to reflect them.
- Develop the mentoring skills of your team to provide them with opportunities for further development.
Key 8: Have a strategy to become inclusive
The City of Stirling is one of the most culturally diverse local governments in Western Australia.
- Over 1 in 3 residents were born overseas
- 62% of residents have a parent born overseas
- Over 1 in 4 households speak a language other than English
- More than 15,000 residents have lived in Australia for less than 5 years , 
Diversity is a reality for our workforce, and the goal is to make it an asset. This requires a strategy.
- Review your policies. Identify those which may be posing a barrier to newcomer hires, and opportunities to create new, supportive policies.
- Consider your procedures. Review those which could be hindering the development of an inclusive workplace. Identify solutions to create procedures that support your diversity and inclusion goals.
- Be a champion. Having the right policies and procedures can help, but they must be supported by action from your organisation’s leaders, from the CEO to frontline managers.
 2016 Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Settlers in Stirling 2011-2016, Settlement Reporting Facility, Australian Government
Key 9: You cannot build an inclusive workplace on your own
By definition, inclusion means considering different perspectives. Building a culturally – inclusive workplace is no different. You need multiple perspectives to move forward. Getting input from others and learning from it will strengthen your efforts.
- Understand where another perspective is needed. Identify challenges that you cannot address alone, or that would benefit from a different point-of-view.
- Identify existing resources. Every organisation has individuals who bring different perspectives. Identify those who can contribute to your diversity and inclusion strategy.
- Identify resources outside your organisation. You can learn a lot from the promising practices other employers have implemented.
Key 10: Know where you’re going.
Identify what success looks like and the indicators to measure progress
Diversity and inclusion are not things you pursue just to feel good. They are a business driver to help you achieve your objectives. But they only work if done correctly, and this takes time and commitment. Hold yourself and your team accountable for meeting your diversity and inclusion objectives.
- Be clear about what needs to change. Identify how you can measure that change.
- Identify who is responsible. Make sure that the team understands who needs to do what to accomplish your goals.
- Make sure you have the right tools in place. Consider what policies and procedures you need to track your progress. This could be something in your performance management matrix, or it might be quarterly review sessions.
Leading in Diversity and Inclusion
In 2018 the Kaleidoscope Initiative will be offering professional development and networking opportunities for organisations. These activities will be aimed at sharing best practice and equip employers with the knowledge and skills to promote diversity and inclusion.