Diversity and inclusion
Organisations that support diversity and inclusion are well positioned to eliminate or minimise sexual harassment in the workplace.
While gender inequality is a key driver of sexual harassment, there are other forms of discrimination and disadvantage that increase the risk of sexual harassment for minority or marginalised groups in the workplace – this is the notion of intersectionality. Your organisation should seek to understand the composition of its workforce and the experience of different groups of workers, including older and younger workers, workers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, workers of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and other – LGBTQ+), First Nations workers, and people with disability.
Specific actions to promote an inclusive workplace:
- Introduce inclusive ways of working, including flexible practices, progressive policies and accessible workplaces.
- Conduct a staff consultation or audit, including an anonymous “census” survey to understand how people across your workforce identify themselves and the experience of different groups of workers and/or engage in employee consultation. Use this data to develop actions to address the inequalities and specific needs of diverse staff highlighted in the survey.
- Develop supportive domestic and family violence policies and practices to send the message that victims of family violence will be supported.
- Inclusive leaders are those who treat people respectfully and fairly and create an environment where people can be themselves and do their best work. Inclusive leadership is emerging as a critical capability for organisations. It will be important to develop this capability starting at the top of your organisation. Use a blended learning approach and combine practical and engaging content with interaction and collaboration. Ensure training is:
- informed by lived experience of discrimination across diverse groups of workers
- generates understanding and empathy
- is supported by specialized knowledge and expertise
- is backed up with resources and supports for diverse staff to access.
- Hold leaders accountable for demonstrating inclusive leadership behaviours and use 360-degree feedback to evaluate performance and increase self-awareness.
- Introduce a sponsorship program for under-represented workers (e.g. women and other minority groups) to overcome obstacles to progression.
- Develop and publicise an Inclusion, Equity & Diversity strategy to address gender and other inequities in the workplace.
- Establish an Inclusion & Diversity council with key decision makers and employee representatives to make sure that inclusion is addressed as an organisational priority.
A note on research and advisory bodies: There are a number of reputable agencies that conduct industry research and can assist with diversity and inclusion best practices, practical resources and benchmarking. These include the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the Diversity Council of Australia, Our Watch Workplace Equality and Respect Standards, and VicHealth Equal Footing Toolkit.
Below you can find resources to help improve the diversity and inclusion of your workforce for specific groups: