Westpac Wardrobe Gets a Corporate Hijab
5 September 2016 at 10:46 am
A corporate hijab is being designed for employees at Westpac Bank as part of a push to ensure diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace.
The bank has recruited fashion designer Carla Zampatti to redesign the Westpac uniforms, and include a corporate hijab, as the bank joins a growing trend to expand work attire to accommodate religious headwear.
The hijab, which will be navy blue with a charcoal Westpac W logo, is set to be launched with the new wardrobe in April 2017 to mark Westpac’s 200th year anniversary.
Westpac joins Commonwealth Bank and Optus in incorporating the hijab in staff uniforms.
A Westpac spokesperson told Pro Bono Australia News the bank had a “long, proud history” of ensuring diversity and inclusion.
“Westpac has had a long standing focus on diversity of all kinds and the hijabs have been included in our latest uniform design, as part of our new corporate wardrobe,” they said.
“Westpac has a long-standing relationship with Carla Zampatti, who established her business vision over 50 years ago with Westpac’s support.
“Westpac has a long, proud history of ensuring diversity and inclusion for our people, customers and communities. This is another way we can show our support for our people and ensure they feel great at work.
“Feedback from staff so far is that it blends beautifully with the broader uniform.”
Australian Multicultural Foundation executive director Dr B. (Hass) Dellal AO told Pro Bono Australia News workplace inclusion was essential for a productive workforce and anything that encouraged this was “a good thing”.
“We live in a multicultural society, with a very diverse workforce and I think it’s really part of what we are and who we are,” Dellal said.
“I think it is about encouraging and utilising all the skills and talents that we have and that are available to us in business and in community.
“By having an inclusive workforce you actually encourage a lot more productivity, and levels of acceptance and respect for each other which helps with productivity.”
Dellal said it was about breaking down barriers.
“Sometimes we tend to overlook that people, because of their diverse experience and background, can bring a lot of skills and talents that we sometimes don’t necessarily pick up in the workforce and that goes right across the board… and I think it’s really good practice to be able to share that,” he said.
“But also I think what it does is, by having an inclusive workforce and creating opportunities where people can interact a lot more, they get to understand a lot more about each other and it helps break down those barriers and also remove the fear of the unknown or take away misunderstandings.
“Sometimes people have questions or things that they want to know, and if you have a workforce that doesn’t allow for expression or does not encourage breaking down barriers then it becomes difficult for people to communicate.
“I think what people should be doing is just creating opportunities where people can interact within their workforce and, as I say, can create a better understanding of each other. Once they create a better understanding of each other they realise other people may have other things to offer that workforce from a productive point of view… and from a whole range of benefits to encourage a workforce to be a much more harmonious, more productive environment.
“At the end of the day it’s about having a productive and inclusive and harmonious workforce and I think anything that can allow for that, is a plus and is a positive.”
Dellal said it was not about catering for the minority.
“It’s really about Australia, and who we are. We are a culturally diverse nation and we bring all sorts of skills and talents that we have in this community and it’s incumbent on us to be able to use them in a productive way to advance our social, economic, cultural well being,” he said.
“And I think by creating opportunities such as this in the workforce, whether it’s the dress code …or whether it is just about recognising people’s skills and talents, any activity that does that I think creates a very inclusive workforce which at the end of the day is productive.
“As a clientele and as a product and a marketplace we are very diverse and business wants to be able to capitalise on that and be able to offer services that are appropriate, that can attract customers. And so therefore if you can understand some of the cultural nuances and some of the cultural strategies that you can incorporate to help sell your product but also to provide services, where people feel comfortable coming to, I think it is good business.
“The other thing for companies is it makes them accessible, so communities see this and they think, “Oh look I feel comfortable coming in there because at least I know they understand and they may understand my need and my issues and deal with appropriately for me.’”