Are our workplaces truly diverse?

With people from different age groups, genders and cultures harbouring varying expectations and needs, it is going to be more important to accommodate people from all backgrounds in the workplace. But are Australia organisations as diverse as we think they are?

According to a survey of more than 200 employers and 300 candidates from recruitment firm Hays, more than half (58 per cent) of Australian workers want to see more diversity in their organisation. The survey revealed stark discrepancies between the current state of affairs and people's desires across a range of workplace diversity measures, from gender and age to culture and disability.

For instance, while two-thirds (66 per cent) of employees believe their workplace is gender diverse, almost half (48 per cent) said they are not satisfied with the career paths available to females in their organisation. The gender imbalance in leadership was again brought to light, as 53 per cent said there isn't an equal representation of males and females at the senior executive level.

Similar inconsistencies were witnessed in other areas – while 69 per cent of employees said their organisation has “a workforce of various ages”, less than half (43 per cent) said it has plans in place to retain mature-aged staff. And while a similar proportion (66 per cent) said their workforce boasts many cultural backgrounds, 49 per cent believed immigrants face discrimination in the Australian job market.

“Many organisations strive for a diverse workforce, but when you look at the current situation in Australia we see that reality falls short of these lofty ambitions,” said Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays Australia and New Zealand.

“Few organisations in Australia can claim to truly have a diverse workforce. Many may meet the diversity criteria for one area, such as age, but fall short when it comes to another, such as gender representation.”

With today's employees clearly valuing a diverse workplace – and hiring strategies shifting to accommodate this in future – organisational diversity is likely to remain an important consideration moving forward.