Today is Harmony Day, the annual Australian holiday recognising our multiculturalism and different backgrounds. It’s a great opportunity as a workplace to celebrate what makes us as individuals different and unique, as well as what makes us inclusive as a society.
We celebrate Harmony Day as Harmony Week every year. It gives everyone in the team the opportunity to share their culture as well as giving our office more of a chance to connect with one another.
But recognising cultural diversity as a workplace all year round isn’t, and shouldn’t be, hard. While some businesses may still have a way to go, Australia is a multicultural country. If you are open to cultural diversity, it just happens.
We don’t overly go about celebrating diversity across the year, it’s just a part of who we are. And while there may be extra training on some differing cultural aspects, we are all accepted for who we are and what skills we bring to the table.
Regardless, from a business perspective, making sure you have a more diverse workplace makes sense. Members of inclusive teams are ten times more likely to be highly effective than those in a non-inclusive team. Not to mention that it’s a safer environment for your staff, with those in an inclusive workplace seven times less likely to have personally experienced harassment compared to those in non-inclusive teams.
We’ve found that the benefits of managing your business across different cultures, religions and demographics are clear. Not only will your business be more welcoming to new staff, but you’ll also be more effective. Staff will want to stick around for longer, you’ll have less sick days, be more productive and overall have a happier and healthier work environment. All of this adds to having a great variety of ideas and solutions to different problems in the business and a much wider range of experiences.
So if you are looking to celebrate diversity this week and beyond, here are a few tips.
Bring people together with food
Food has a great quality of being able to bring people together. Whether it’s a free lunch once a week, or extra picnics or celebrations across the year, having open communal gatherings where everyone can relax and remove themselves from their usual working environment will mean that your staff mingle more with one another and your workplace will become more welcoming as a whole.
This Harmony Week, every day we have a new group of staff members bringing in a cultural dish of their nationality to share with the rest of the office. It’s one of our favourite weeks of the year because it brings everyone together and helps celebrate all of our different backgrounds. And it’s not just different cultural dishes, but vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free food or variations on traditional dishes that our staff can share with the team to give people a new opportunity to try something they might not have otherwise tried on their own.
Check your business messaging
Of course being culturally inclusive doesn’t just stop internally. It also extends to how you promote and market yourselves outside of your business to potential customers or clients. Making sure your business is appealing to all cultures and demographics is important not just for recruiting staff, but also for bringing on new clients. The last thing you want to do is turn off a potential client because your business doesn’t come across as inclusive enough for them. This is something we’ve been particularly focused on over the last few years when it comes to inclusive language for the LGBTIQ+ community who are planning their weddings.
Checking and altering your business messaging can start anywhere from the language that you use to the imagery on your website. It’s not just about saying you’re a diverse business, it’s about showing that you are committed to continuing to showcase yourselves as diverse.
Change your hiring practices
This one’s a bit harder and can take a bit more work, and that’s looking at your hiring and corporate plan. Having an inclusive and equal-opportunity corporate plan means making sure that everyone knows and feels like they can grow in the workplace.
Another important factor is to make sure you’re reaching outside of your own networks when you’re hiring. Though many businesses don’t like job ads, they can actually be a really good tool to help diversify your business rather than relying on internal word-of-mouth, which can sometimes lead to a single-minded business. Advertising your job ads online means they are available to anyone who is qualified. By making sure you have a diverse workplace you’re also making sure that you have a broad range of different ideas and ways of looking at things. It’s no wonder that inclusive businesses are nine times more likely to innovate.
About the author
Matt Butterworth is the CEO and Co-Founder of wedding directory and marketplace Easy Weddings. He works closely with the Australian wedding industry to make sure Aussie small businesses have a fair go. He’s also hands-on within the business, growing traffic, people and the experience of customers.