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More than 90 per cent of workers agree that racist attitudes are still held in Australian workplaces.

The alarming statistic was just one to emerge from a new study conducted by the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) around cultural diversity in the modern workplace.

The DCA surveyed 75 Australian businesses to gauge current attitudes towards diversity. Some of the findings included:

  • Gender diversity, work/life initiatives and indigenous employment were of greater importance to Australian businesses than the issue of cultural diversity.
  • Almost 30 per cent ranked gender diversity as the most important issue for Australian businesses to address, compared to the 13 per cent who chose cultural diversity.
  • One in three Australian businesses don’t feel that the cultural diversity of their workforce is valued and/or utilised for the benefit of their organisation.
  • Almost 70 per cent of Australian businesses have cultural diversity initiatives in the workplace.

DCA’s Cultural Diversity Director Katrina Tahka commented that despite the findings, the organisation is encouraged to see that many businesses have undertaken tangible actions on cultural diversity, or plan to in 2014.

“It’s also good to see there is strong recognition that racist attitudes are a problem in Australia – because acknowledging a problem is the first step to effectively addressing it,” Tahka said.

These findings lend support to events such as A Taste of Harmony, which benefit workplaces by celebrating and recognising diversity.

An annual initiative of the Scanlon Foundation, A Taste of Harmony is a week-long event, held in March 17-23. It encourages Australians to take a plate of food to work that represents their cultural background and share it with their colleagues.

A Taste of Harmony is a great platform for organisations wanting to develop more comprehensive strategies to capitalise on the business benefits of cultural diversity,” Tahka added.

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Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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