The state of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Australia is improving with an increasing number of businesses taking action despite the threat of a looming recession.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts have been gaining momentum across various Australian sectors, but economic challenges are very real and with cost cutting going on, it’s often DEI initiatives that get the chop.
According to a new survey and research by Indeed, over a third (34%) of employers cited cost and budget constraints as the number one reason why diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) efforts were falling off their to-do lists.
Whilst the bulk of respondents said they were not looking to cut DEIB costs, those that are could be doing so at the worst possible time.
As it stands, Australia is in the midst of a skills shortage where there is an ongoing battle for talented employees who don’t just want to work for companies where the pay is great, but they increasingly want to companies that are socially responsible.
This tight labour market is one of the key reasons why DEI initiatives must be maintained if business leaders want to remain competitive in Australia.
On the upside, there is ample evidence to suggest that the vast majority of organisations that are making DEI efforts are attracting a wider spectrum of job applicants.
The most popular means of increasing DEI through recruitment practices are flexible working arrangements (66%), inclusive language in job advertisements (53%) and using structured interviews for promotions and recruitment (41%), according to the Australian HR Institute (AHRI), which at the end of 2022 surveyed just over 300 HR professionals.
The AHRI data also found there is a clear gap between employer’s who want to take action on DEI and those that actually do so.
The study found that only half (50%) of HR professionals say that their leaders see DEI as a priority for their organisation, while a similar proportion (49%) of HR professionals also that say that their organisation is not placing enough focus on DEI.
The gap between intent and practice is reinforced by the survey data which also highlights relatively low levels of transparency in terms of collecting diversity data.
- DEI activity in Australian workplaces focuses largely on gender and to a lesser extent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Less effort is directed towards other underrepresented groups; for example, people living with disability, people who are LGBTQIA+, people who are older in the workforce, and those from a lower socio-economic background.
- There is also a widespread perception among HR professionals that many groups are under-represented in their own organisations .
Meanwhile, the study also found that there is strong evidence that organisations are seeking to improve the diversity in senior management.
Tactics used by employers include an open and supportive culture (cited by 67% of HR professionals) formal leadership and development programmes (47%), a transparent recruitment and promotion process (45%), clear career pathways and promotion process (35%), coaching, mentoring or sponsorship schemes (31%) and secondments to build experience (27%).
Financy writes about gender financial equality, diversity and inclusion. We also provide the software, Impacter which makes DEI performance easy and accessible for business. We also publish the quarterly Financy Women’s Index report which measures timeframes to equality in Australia. To stay up to date with us, subscribe to our newsletter.