Australian workplace diversity programs are overly focused on gender, with age, ethnicity or disability neglected, according to a new Mercer report. The Asia Pacific Diversity and Inclusion Survey of 355 employers across the Asia-Pacific region found a strong focus on gender equality in Australia (90%), with ethnicity and race (49%), age (39%) and disability (10%) being the poor cousins. Mercer’s head of leadership, diversity and learning solutions for Asia Pacific Alison Tickner said Australian businesses needed to expand their diversity programs. “Australia has an ageing population, yet employers are failing to tap into this talent pool as a way to fill skills shortages,” Tickner said. Mercer said a 2012 McKinsey report found global businesses which ranked in the top quartile for executive-board diversity delivered a 53% better return on equity than those at the bottom. Seventy four per cent of respondents in Australia indicated there were “real barriers” to implementing their diversity strategy, and 50% noted their local business leaders understood the importance of diversity and inclusion but were not actively involved. “The survey revealed a level of resistance from middle management to actively change organisational cultures to ensure diversity strategies can survive. Business leaders need to become the champions of change and align diversity and inclusion strategies with their core business strategies if they want to see real, sustainable change,” Tickner said.
Source: Thomson Reuters’ HR Report, 13 June 2012.