Australia and Diversity: How We Stack Up Globally

As we continue our discussion about diversity, we need to look around us and figure out how diversity stacks up in our own country and how Australia compares to other countries.

  • What are our strengths?
  • What do we do well?
  • Where are our shortcomings?
  • What do we need to work on?

According to a survey of employees done by Hays Australia:

“58% would like to see more diversity in their workplace, while 33% are happy with efforts made to date and 9% feel there are more important issues to deal with.”

Let’s see Australia stacks up against the word in workplace diversity.

Let’s start with where we are doing well.

In a 2012 report by Forbes, it found that Australia ranked among the top 5 in most diverse labour forces in the world.

Norway ranked at the top, and that was because of its high gender diversity.

While Australia ranked higher due to its high rankings in age, income and education diversity.

Almost one in two Australians work in an inclusive team or for an inclusive manager, according to the ‘Inclusion@Work Index 2017-2018’ by the Diversity Council of Australia.

When you look around the web, Australia is considered to be successful in terms of multiculturalism.

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, “many of the Australian-born children of blue-collar immigrants have moved into professional, technical and managerial jobs.”

However, we’re severely lacking in diversity in the senior leadership.

In a 2018 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission where the researchers looked at the senior leadership of almost 2,500 posts in business, politics, government and higher education, found that about 95% of senior leaders in Australia have an Anglo-Celtic or European background.

Further, “although those who have non-European and Indigenous backgrounds make up an estimated 24% of the Australian population, such backgrounds account for only 5% of senior leaders.”

And it doesn’t stop at multicultural problems in the top leadership.

Quoting from the Hays report: According to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency or EOWA (now known as the Workplace Gender Equality Agency or WGEA) in 2012, women held 9.2% of executive roles in the ASX 500.

Furthermore, there has been little increase in the number of female executives over the past decade in Australia, and we have the lowest percentage of female executives compared to similar countries.

There is still a difference in pay between men and women as well as races.

Pay gaps

Australia also still has lots of work to do in terms of pay gaps both among gender as well as race.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, currently, Australia’s national gender pay gap is 14.1%.

At November 2018, women’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings across all industries and occupations was $1,455.80 compared to men’s average weekly ordinary full-time earnings of $1,695.60.

The same problem exists with race.

For example, according to an article on GradAustralia, in 2017 Deloitte reported that:

  • The median hourly pay gap for its black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees is 8.7% (i.e. BAME employees earn 8.7% less) and…
  • Its mean ethnicity pay gap is 12.9%
  • The firm’s median bonus gap for BAME employees is 34.7% and…
  • Its mean ethnicity bonus gap is 41.9%

And one more piece of bad news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says that labour participation rates are only 54% for people with disabilities, which is nearly 30% lower than for the general population, as was written in the Hays Australia report.

What does all this mean?

If we look at the Global Gender Gap Report 2018 produced by the World Economic Forum, Australia is ranked in 39th place.

Global leader Iceland is proud to be at the top of the list year after year with its continued focus on equality of status, influence and power of men and women.

When looking at various reports on why Iceland is where it is, you can see that it requires a lot of work including some of the below summary areas:

  1. The collective action of defenders working together.
  2. Making the invisible realities of women visible (most importantly discriminatory practices including sexual harassment and abuse as well as practical policies around parental leave and flexibility).
  3. Men and women sharing power as decision makers (including elected representatives, official committee and councils, local government, judges in district and supreme courts, associations of journalists, managers of state institutions, government ministers, managers or enterprises).
  4.  Political will, such as legislation.
  5. An understanding of metrics, budgeting and quotas to understand, monitor and respond and…
  6.  Educational programs (at all levels from schooling to executives).

These strategies could also definitely be applied to wider diversity areas to truly reap the benefits of a more diverse nation.

Similar to when workplaces where (or maybe still are) ‘having concerns’ about adapting their organisations to Generation Y requirements, the reality is, this is no longer an optional choice.

Organisations must adapt to survive.

By 2025, it is predicted that Millennials could comprise 75% of your workforce.

Despite the benefits already described in prior weeks, my questions to you are simple:

  • Do your company’s workforce planning targets and culture strategies reflect the changes in our workforce demographics in the next 10 years?
  • Will you be able to attract, retain and motivate your team members in the future and if you can’t, what will happen to your business?
  • What might you need to start thinking about how to get ready?

Australia, as a country, still has loads to do in terms of diversity from race to gender and everything in between.

But hopefully, with a continued focus and some hard work, we can get there.

Take a look back at the last few weeks and look over my tips and suggestions on how to get started on improving diversity.

Then feel free to call me. Together, we can make a difference.

Next: Are you ready to tackle diversity in your business?

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