The benefits of diversity are widely known – having a diverse workforce improves outcomes for all stakeholders. While great progress has been made, there is still more for organisations to do until everyone has the same experience of being valued and respected for who they are at work.
Great progress has been made on diversity, and the next step is to focus on inclusion. Ensuring that people feel included and able to bring their whole selves to work is critical to reap the full rewards of a diverse workforce.
The Diversity Council of Australia’s 2019-20 Inclusion@Work Index showed some pleasing results – 43% of employees strongly support their organisation taking action to create an inclusive workplace, an increase from 37% in 2017.
At Suncorp, we recognise that inclusion benefits everyone – our customers, our people and our stakeholders – not just those from minority groups. The research showed that employees within an inclusive business are five times more likely to innovate, three times more likely to work extra hard, and three times more likely to provide excellent customer service.
Over 40% of our people trace their heritage beyond Australia and New Zealand to 27 different cultures – we want to ensure that our workforce represents the diverse communities we operate in.
I’m proud that in both 2017 and 2019, employees in finance and insurance services were significantly more likely to experience inclusion.
While it is clearly positive to see the progress that is being made in the financial services sector, organisations need to continue to drive change. Now that we have reached this stage of maturity as an industry, we need to acknowledge the gaps and identify what more we can do.
An area of particular focus must be the three groups the research identified as reporting lower levels of inclusion; LGBTIQ+ employees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and workers with disability.
To address this, Suncorp is committed to a variety of initiatives that support these groups:
- At this year’s Australian LGBTI Inclusion Awards we achieved Silver Employer status, recognising our commitment and continued progress with LGBTIQ+ inclusion. This is driven by Amplify, our Employee Resource Group.
- We recently established a new Employee Resource Group, enAble, which seeks to foster an inclusive and caring environment for people with disability and accessibility requirements, and those who support them.
- We are also driving inclusion among our First Nations Peoples by collaborating with specialised recruitment and community partners to break down recruitment barriers and improve cultural capability through training and immersion activities at Suncorp.
While we’re still learning, I’m proud of the actions taken to improve the workplace experience for these three demographic groups at Suncorp.
I’m encouraged to see the increasing proportion of people who support inclusion. No industry will always get it right, and as pleasing as our sector results are, the report shows that there is a way to go. Research like this is critical to highlight the areas organisations need to focus on, and how we can ensure that we continue to build on the progress that has already been made.
Now we must take diversity to the next level, and strive for inclusion – as a company, an industry and an economy.