The Three Most Common Barriers to Workplace Diversity

We are all talking about workplace diversity but not a lot is being done about it. This much is evident in the facts, and specifically PwC’s recent research that showed Australia has stagnated in 2015 on women’s economic empowerment, namely in closing the pay gap and increasing the number of females in paid work.

You can learn more about the importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Part 1 of our D+I Ebook series.

Some organisations have a pretty clear idea on what needs to be done, and a solid strategy in place, yet even they come up against barriers in seeing any real and fast change in this space. Our research into the literature, social discourse and client feedback in this area has showed very clear trends on what the biggest obstacles to success are:

1. Merit System

There is a false belief that a fair, equitable and robust merit system exists within each organisation, which measures and compares candidates against objective performance only. It doesn’t. The current ‘merit’ system discriminates on gender, race, social status and even more specific criteria like universities and schools. It is not a system that promotes equal accessibility to every candidate. It’s essential to audit the recruitment and performance systems in your organisation to ensure merit is objectively defined and implemented.

2. Talent Pipeline

Many organisations complain about the lack of a female or culturally diverse pipeline of talent. More than 55% of graduates in Australia are female so something doesn’t add up here. If you still can’t find diverse candidates, you are doing something wrong. Re-think and re-design your recruitment process, from attraction onwards, to make it more appealing to diverse candidates and more accessible to everyone who isn’t called John Smith. One way to achieve this is to start recruiting on value-alignment as opposed to the outdated concept of ‘years of experience’.

3. Ignorance

‘We don’t have a diversity problem, it’s grossly overstated’ – say many. Yet facts show only 10.1% of executive roles in Australia are held by women, and only 12 out of the top 200 CEO’s, are women. Many don’t believe that they are exercising recruitment and promotion in a ‘like me’ fashion but the unconscious bias struggle is real! Refer back to point one above. Isn’t it time you become educated in how bias operates, how it affects your recruitment team and how you can manage the adverse impact it has?

To paraphrase the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – It’s 2016 Australia – a lack of progress on diversity in the workplace is just not acceptable anymore. Now what are you going to do about it?

Contact our consultants to help you determine the best approach for your organisation.

You can learn more about the importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Part 1 of our D+I Ebook series.


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