What does cultural diversity mean?
Diversity Council Australia refers to 'culture' as "a common set of norms and values shared by a group" and 'cultural diversity' as "the variation between people in terms of ancestry, ethnicity, ethno-religiosity, language, national origin, race, and/or religion."
Are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians included in your definition of cultural diversity?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians occupy a unique position as First Nations peoples and so are often referred to as distinct to people from culturally and linguistically diverse, or multicultural, backgrounds. However, this tool is intended to encourage employers to be inclusive of employees from a range of backgrounds and so includes information relevant to the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as those of other racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Why should our organisation focus on cultural diversity?
Australia is becoming more culturally diverse and many Australian organisations need support to effectively manage the opportunities and challenges that this cultural diversity brings. Research demonstrates that organisations that manage cultural diversity well can expect to receive a host of benefits, including greater employee commitment and team performance, larger market share and better customer and client satisfaction. A summary of this research is available here.
How was this tool developed?
The tool is based on a resource commissioned by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) for a project called Localities Embracing and Accepting Diversity.
The original version was developed by Associate Professor Yin Paradies (Deakin University) and Dr Brigid Trenerry based on research on international best practice in workplace cultural diversity and was piloted with two Victorian local councils, the cities of Whittlesea and Greater Shepparton. The Australian Human Rights Commission and Diversity Council Australia joined with VicHealth to refine the tool and test it with a wider range of corporate and non-for-profit organisations across Australia.
The original version of the tool and supporting research are available here.
What will (and won't) the tool do?
The tool is designed to help organisations measure themselves against best practice standards in workplace cultural diversity, effectively manage a culturally diverse workforce, plan their business development and chart their progress over time.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to cultural diversity. While the standards in the tool are based on international best practice they won't meet the needs of every employee from a culturally diverse background, nor will they be relevant to every employee of a culturally diverse background.
Does the tool encourage organisations to favour employees from minority cultures?
No. It's intended to help organisations employ the best person for the job, maximise the benefits of a culturally diverse workforce and minimise the risk of complaints of discrimination. Some organisations are not aware that they inadvertently discriminate against employees, and potential employees, from different cultural backgrounds. This tool highlights situations where this could occur and suggests some steps to minimise the chances that this will happen.
The tool provides general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Employers should therefore seek their own legal advice as required.
Is the tool only useful for large corporate organisations?
No. The tool is intended for large, medium and small employers from the private, non-government and public sectors. Some of the standards may be more relevant to larger organisations, although every employer should be able to find something in the tool that is relevant to their needs.
How much does it cost to use the tool?
Nothing. Use of the tool is free, as is the confidential report tailored to your organisation that is generated upon completion of the tool.
Who should complete this tool?
The tool is designed to be completed by a staff member with oversight and/or awareness of organisational planning, policies, recruitment and retention processes such as a senior manager, human resources manager or diversity officer.
Ideally a range of staff will have input into the completion of the tool to provide a variety of perspectives from different cultures and different areas of the organisation.
How long will it take to complete?
It can be expected to take about an hour to complete, however this depends on the size and complexity of your organisation.
Who will have access to the information we submit through the tool?
We are committed to ensuring the security and confidentiality of this resource. Although a copy of the data you submit to the tool will be retained by the Commission’s server, the information you provide will not be considered or used by the Commission. The data is retained to allow you to re-use the tool and to enable the Commission to assist you in case of any problems you encounter when using the tool. Access to the tool is via a secure login and all data transmission will be encrypted.
I've received the report containing our results. Now what?
The report provides an assessment of how your organisation measures up to best practice in this area. Some organisations will use the report to plan for improvements while others will publish the report to demonstrate performance to stakeholders, current and potential employees. Some will table the report at board meetings or meetings with the CEO and senior managers.
Where can I get help to manage cultural diversity effectively?
You will receive links to some useful resources on workplace cultural diversity upon completion of the tool.
Some agencies also provide training on workplace cultural diversity on a fee-for-service basis. Some training is generic while some is specific to specific sectors or to particular objectives such as building a culturally competent workforce or identifying unconscious bias. Other training is directed towards working effectively with specific cultures, such as local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Some of the organisations listed in the resources section may be able to provide assistance with workplace cultural diversity training.
Can we repeat the tool next year?
Yes, we would encourage it – this will enable your organisation to measure your progress towards best practice over time.
When you log back in to the tool, you can choose to continue where you left off or start a new assessment. If you choose to continue where you left off, you will be able to access your previous responses and generate a copy of your organisation’s report, then you can start the tool again. We recommend that you save your username and password in case you or a colleague wish to log in, access your previous results and complete the tool again in future.
How can I ask other questions about the tool, provide feedback or submit a good practice example from our organisation?
For more information or to ask questions about the tool please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you complete the tool you will have the opportunity to provide feedback and submit your own good practice example/s for inclusion in the tool.
We welcome your input as we aim to continuously improve the tool to meet the needs of Australian employers and their employees.