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Diverse Pay: How we achieved parity

It’s hard to imagine Australia without its diverse population and rich cultural community that is so enmeshed in our everyday lives. 

The 2016 census identified more than 300 ancestries throughout the country, with one-third of the population having been born overseas and more than one-fifth speaking a language other than English at home. 

This melting pot of cultures, religions, and ethnicities is one of our greatest assets, not only enriching our way of life but also providing greater opportunities for the way we do business, too.

As we continue to push for greater diversity in business, it’s more important than ever that we focus on building a harmonious culture that benefits the social and economic well-being of a workplace.

Foster a curious, open-minded workplace culture

If diversity is important to your business, it needs to be important to your employees. A truly diverse workplace is full of people who are willing to learn about ways of life other than their own. The truth is that many people can avoid conversations on race, religion, and culture out of fear of ignorance, but these conversations are often the catalyst for true understanding and appreciation between your employees. 

A great way to foster a sense of curiosity, respect, and appreciation amongst your team is by acknowledging the culturally diverse holidays and celebrations recognised by your employees. This will give everyone the chance to learn more about how your business values its community of rich cultural backgrounds and will ensure each employee’s personal beliefs are given the space to be understood and included.

Not only will this enrich your workplace culture by helping employees to foster a greater sense of connection, but it will contribute to even greater business outcomes by helping them to feel engaged and appreciated for their hard work.

Nurture growth from within

Whether unconscious or not, racial and gender bias in the workplace results in minorities disproportionately working in positions that have less opportunity to grow. In many cases, this contributes to a pay gap that reinforces harmful stereotypes and limits the potential of culturally diverse people.

A prime example of this can be seen in Deloitte’s 2017 ethnicity pay gap report, which showed that the median hourly pay gap for its black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees was 8.7% and its mean ethnicity pay gap was 12.9%. Deloitte reported that the primary reason for the gap was due to a significantly low proportion of its BAME employees holding senior positions within the company.

For companies like Deloitte – where culturally diverse employees make up a significant portion of the workforce but are hindered by fewer opportunities to progress – promoting from within is the best place to start. This approach allows you to identify employees who have demonstrated qualities you’d like to see in more senior positions and nurture them to reach their full potential.

After implementing this method for many years now at SMARTECH, I’ve seen first-hand how promoting from within can enrich a business. Our commitment to nurturing existing employees saw 23 internal promotions in 2022 and has contributed to more than 57% of our employees remaining at the company for more than five years. Giving your employees a chance to upskill and grow – regardless of where they currently sit in the business – is invaluable to the creation of a harmonious culture. 

When employees feel like their potential is seen and valued, they are more likely to remain engaged and invested long-term. Not only will this allow you to give people of all genders, ages, and ethnicities chances to progress further, but it will provide opportunities to nurture employees who truly reflect the goals and values of your business.

Encourage diverse perspectives

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to workplace diversity is that it’s purely an optics issue. In a time where inclusivity is often used as a buzzword, many businesses don’t see just how beneficial a diverse team can be to their long-term growth and success. Research suggests that there are ten key benefits that truly diverse companies enjoy, including faster problem-solving, better decision-making, better reputation, increased profits and improved employee turnover. In particular, diverse and inclusive companies were 1.7 times more likely to establish themselves as innovation leaders within their market.

The explanation for how diversity can facilitate all these benefits is simple: diverse perspectives lead to more ideas and more opportunities for unique skills to be unlocked and utilised. A business that encourages its employees to use their individual skills, backgrounds, and cultural experiences to inform the way they work will always come out on top because it allows you to unlock the full potential of your workforce.

More than a token gesture or a marketing buzzword, diversity offers just as much to Australian businesses as it does to the millions of culturally diverse people who work in them. 

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Vincent Nair

Vincent Nair

Vincent Nair is the CEO of SMARTECH Business Systems, a global industry-leading channel partner for a range of businesses in the print, mailing, communications and ecommerce industry.

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