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NFPs Need to Look at Workplace Diversity

1 August 2013 at 10:37 am
Staff Reporter
It’s claimed the Not for Profit sector could learn a lot about making changes to workplace diversity following the results of a new survey carried out by the Diversity Council of Australia.

Staff Reporter | 1 August 2013 at 10:37 am


NFPs Need to Look at Workplace Diversity
1 August 2013 at 10:37 am

It’s claimed the Not for Profit sector could learn a lot about making changes to workplace diversity following the results of a new survey carried out by the Diversity Council of Australia.

The survey reveals that although the business sector has maintained a commitment to workplace diversity for many years, many organisations are still at the foundation stage of their diversity programs and have a declining focus on diversity strategy.

The survey findings also suggest corporations don’t fully realise the business benefits of inclusive workplaces.

Research groups Korn/Ferry International, Futurestep and the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) surveyed more than 100 diversity managers and human resources leaders in Australia and New Zealand to learn the profile of diversity functions within organisations and the professionals leading and implementing their strategies.

The survey revealed a lack of strategic engagement, with 81% of respondents believing senior leadership is critical to the success of a diversity and inclusion strategy. However, most senior level managers were only ‘somewhat involved’ or ‘not very involved’.

Diversity Council Australia CEO, Nareen Young says Not for Profits need to learn from this report about the lack of diversity in the business sector and take a look at what is occurring inside their own workforce structures.

“Despite the Not for Profit sector being under resourced there are still questions around what their HR people have been doing for the last 25 years,” she said.

Young says the survey findings are one explanation of why progress in some areas of diversity has been so poor, despite legislation.

“Minimal increases in women in leadership positions, persistent barriers to more flexible working and the notable absence of people with a disability and Aboriginal Australians in our workplaces show current organisational approaches are not working," she said.

“We aren’t going to see a lot of improvement in these areas if organisations don’t value the diversity function, aren’t strategic about planning for it or don’t properly resource it.”

The report said that the responsibility for diversity and inclusion is almost exclusively the domain of the human resources function (82%) with small pockets following an alternative model.

Eight percent of respondents have a stand-alone team reporting directly to the CEO or senior leadership, 3% of respondents sit within the strategy team, two percent in corporate communications or sustainability and 5% elsewhere in the organisation.

Young said DCA’s unique knowledge bank of research, practice and expertise assists organisations across all diversity dimensions.

“Our research in areas like age and gender diversity, flexible working and cultural diversity will be particularly relevant given the increased focus on these areas in the next couple of years.

“Regardless of whether an organisation is just commencing its diversity strategic planning or is well advanced and looking for new frontiers in diversity thinking, membership of DCA will provide many benefits. It can be especially useful for new diversity managers, those organisations that have limited resources in the area or anyone who wants to know what leading practice looks like.”

“While there are some organisations leading the way on diversity, many of whom are DCA members, a lot of others are in the early stages of thinking about and implementing diversity management.

“ I urge business and Not for Profit leaders to take another look at their diversity function to ensure they have the skills, resources and strategic engagement they need to achieve change and harness the benefits of diversity,” Young said.

Young says the Diversity Council Australia will start working with Not for Profits to look at issues around diversity.

“The aim is to get organisations to practice what they preach.”

Survey Results at a glance:

  • 66% of organisations had a designated manager with diversity and inclusion responsibilities
  • 62% of diversity managers combine diversity with other responsibilities, usually talent and leadership development and human resources
  • Most (54%) report to either the head of HR or head of Talent and Culture, while 14% report to the CEO
  • 62% of diversity teams have two or less members
  • 70% of respondents with diversity responsibilities are female
  • 85% of diversity professionals are degree or higher qualified
  • 67% have career experience in human resources
  • 60% of respondents have none or limited experience in diversity before their current role
  • 20% of respondents have 10+ years in a diversity-related discipline and 40% have less than three years’ experience.
  • Men were 10% more likely to have the greatest tenure working in diversity than women
  • 44% of respondents had diversity added to their existing responsibilities, 24% were internally hired and 32% were externally hired
  • Half of organisations are only at the compliance (8%) or foundation (41%) stages of their diversity strategies
  • Gender and women in leadership not the top priority for diversity and inclusion strategies as they have been in the past
  • Flexibility is the biggest issue for business.

The report can be downloaded here

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