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Do NFPs Walk the Talk on Diversity?


17 March 2016 at 11:17 am
Ellie Cooper
Not all Not for Profits are adopting best practice in creating inclusive workplaces despite their good intentions, according to exclusive data provided to Pro Bono Australia News.

Ellie Cooper | 17 March 2016 at 11:17 am


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Do NFPs Walk the Talk on Diversity?
17 March 2016 at 11:17 am

Not all Not for Profits are adopting best practice in creating inclusive workplaces despite their good intentions, according to exclusive data provided to Pro Bono Australia News.

The sector is at the forefront of supporting and advocating for diverse groups, but the data, revealed in the latest Not for Podcast episode to mark Cultural Diversity Week, explores how well these organisations succeed at embracing diversity within their own ranks.

Pro Bono Australia contacted Diversity Council Australia and the ABS for figures on Not for Profit workplace diversity, which neither organisaiton could provide.

But Professor Carol Kulik, from the University of South Australia Business School, provided access to her latest unpublished data.

The Making Diversity Work project, run in conjunction with the University of Melbourne Business School, conducted a “diversity audit” of 800 organisations across Australia, with 20 per cent from the public and Not for Profit sectors.

Professor Kulik said a sense of social justice motivates Not for Profits to achieve diversity.

“There’s much more of a ‘well it’s just the right thing to do, we care about these issues’… whereas in the private sector we’re much more likely to see economic arguments, a business case argument… ‘it’s going to make us more profitable, it’s going to make us more innovative’, and we don’t see those arguments quite as much in the Not for Profit sector,” Professor Kulik said.

She said that while organisations have good intentions, not all have adopted best practice in creating an inclusive workplace.

“They [NFPs] definitely are interested in diversity management, they are definitely active in diversity management, but I really need to caution you, that doesn’t mean they’re doing it well,” she said.

“It’s all about how you manage it, and one concern that I have is that they tend to be very small – small organisations have small budgets, they have limited resources, and so this may mean they don’t have enough to invest in diversity management practices even though they really care about diversity.

“The big recommendation I’d make, is to not make assumptions you’re doing it well, to really invest in benchmarking your practices, to really invest in doing things like employee surveys… don’t assume the representation of your workforce is the only signal you should pay attention to.”

CEO of Welcome to Australia Mohammad Al-Khafaji echoed Kulik’s sentiment, and said Not for Profits should wary of making diversity a token gesture.   

“I think the sector is very aware that diversity is something that needs to be throughout the organisation and being aware is the first step to being socially cohesive,” Al-Khafaji said.

“But i think there are some organisations out there that are implementing diversity just for the sake of having a brown person… without actually saying, ‘hey let’s have a look to see if there are people with the skills we need that happen to be from diverse backgrounds.’”

Subscribe to Not for Podcast through iTunes.


Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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