Over the next few blog posts, I am going to break down each of the benefits of diversity in greater detail, starting with problem solving and decision making.
So how does business improve just from diversity? One of the reasons is that employing people from different backgrounds and experiences create differences of opinions which can lead to constructive dissent – and better problem solving.
So why would you want dissent and disagreement in a team? Most of us avoid it, but for business – believe it or not – it leads to a demonstrated rise in business profit of up to 35 per cent.
Managing constructive dissent can be a challenge, but the results can increase your profits, and put your business into the lead in any market.
How do you create constructive dissent which leads to better discussions in your team, and shows in better business decisions and better profits? Constructive dissent happens when people have differing opinions about how to solve a problem, or approach a business decision. Differing opinions can be based on a person’s background, their political beliefs, their life experiences, their socio-economic status, their cultural heritage, and their different abilities.
The role that constructive dissent from a diverse team plays in business has been studied in detail. Discussions on business problems, sales, and decisions will be more creative, because diverse teams provide more solutions to problems than non-diverse teams, leading to better business results.
Recruiting staff from different backgrounds with the appropriate skills and qualifications to do the job – and ensuring proper inclusion occurs will create an environment where constructive dissent and better problem solving will thrive.
When managing differences in opinion, inclusion is the key, and leadership on practising inclusion in your business and in your teams is crucial. If you lead by example, and your team leaders lead by example, in your recruitment choices and your genuine inclusion of people from different backgrounds, your business will begin to see the emergence of new ideas, new ways to do business, and better results.
Let’s take the example of Verizon, a company that openly takes pride in the diversity of their workforce. They have a leadership with diverse backgrounds, they have 59 percent of their staff identifying as a member of an inclusion group, and – they make purchasing decisions and buy from companies who are owned and operated by, for example, veterans or culturally diverse people.
They openly acknowledge problem solving, ideas and constructive dissent ensures the financial success of the company. Verizon’s recruitment strategy continues to encourage people of all backgrounds to work at the company, and their 2016 annual report shows they are in their tenth consecutive year of annual dividend increases.
Whether you’re a small to medium enterprise, or a larger business, there’s a profit to be had from a diverse workforce. So if you’re striving for a 35 per cent increase in profits, next time you hire, think diversity.
It’s been shown many times over to improve the business bottom line, your creative problem solving, and lead to better decisions, with people who come from many different backgrounds. It’s been proven, it works.
Get in touch with us at email@example.com or (02) 6162 5127 if you’re ready to increase your diversity and increase your profits.
Are you finding that ideas are stagnating in your organisation? Are team meetings boring and there’s no fresh perspectives? Have you been worried that your business is just going through the motions and your outputs aren’t increasing?
If this sounds like you and you’re ready to change this, you may be interested to know that the solution is pretty simple! All you need to do is increase the diversity!
“People with different lifestyles and different backgrounds challenge each other more. Diversity creates dissent, and you need that. Without it, you’re not going to get any deep inquiry or breakthroughs. The dynamic created by dissent prevents organizations from becoming too insular and out of touch with their increasingly heterogeneous customer base and as a result, working teams are able to come up with a wider range of solutions to business problems.”
For business and government, the risk when recruiting people from the same background as the staff they already have is that they’ll stagnate, both in terms of profits and sales, and in terms of creative problem solving, and a lack of appropriate policy approaches to solve problems faced by governments.
When employers think of ‘diversity’, they often forget how broad the spectrum of diversity can be. Diversity in one organisation may mean equal numbers of men and women in management positions, rather than a broad range of backgrounds which includes women, who belong to communities ranging from the multicultural to Australian Defence Force members and their family, people with a disability, LGBTIQ, refugees, carers, and older workers.
There is a growing body of academic research which focuses on case studies of businesses who have diverse workforces, that show where inclusion and diversity exist side by side, problem solving improves, decision making improves, innovation rates are higher, efficiency is higher, and the results of better working in all areas reflects in outputs or profits.
The McKinsey organisation has studied various different types of diversity in different companies, which shows that where genuine inclusion exists, lateral thinking, creativity, innovation and better decision making rates are higher.
So what is the difference between diversity and inclusion?
You can’t do diversity without inclusion.
Where inclusion does not exist, nothing will improve regardless of how diverse your workforce is. One definition of inclusion is ‘a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully and have equal access to opportunities, resources, and are able to contribute fully to the business’s success’.
Inclusion is more important than diversity in terms of increasing business success, driving innovation and better decision making. You may employ a person from a background which has differences, but you will not achieve better results without ensuring inclusion is also a priority. Genuine inclusion – an appreciation that differences bring different perspectives and different approaches to problem solving.
The research shows that diversity – when managed with proper inclusion – leads to increased sales revenue, increased customer numbers, increased market share and increased relative profits.  It’s important in the public and community sectors as well, with research showing that a diverse workforce with inclusion is more adaptable to change, is more innovative and creative in problem solving, have more solutions to business problems and policy making is more innovative and creative.
And interestingly, for human resource professionals, once you have a diverse team, you open up the recruitment talent pool because diversity is attractive to millennials. Young people entering the workforce for the first time after studying are attracted to diverse teams, and they make up 53.6% of the talent available.
Real commitment is needed from all levels in an organisation, from CEO level to middle management, to team members, to the notion of inclusion. Advertising a job on a website such as ours, without committing to inclusion, will not bring the benefits that diversity can bring. Overcoming prejudice in hiring is a business-wide, company-wide, or department-wide responsibility, but the pay off shows in performance outcomes and business results.
This requires not only a business or departmental wide commitment to inclusion, it needs a moral commitment. Tokenism without inclusion won’t bring the results that the research shows are there for businesses and governments if diversity and inclusion is a priority.
So if you’re ready to make both the business and moral commitment to diversity, and ready to lift sales, performance, and reap the benefits of innovation in your business, government department or social enterprise, you’re ready to advertise with Enabled Employment. S o give us a call at (02) 6162 5127 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can assess your requirements and find you qualified staff who will increase your diversity.
And if you’re from a background that’s a little different, whether that’s a disability, age, caring responsibilities, multicultural, Australian Defence Force or LGBTI, we are confident that employers advertising through our website offer genuine inclusion – and diversity - so check out our jobs at www.enabledemployment.com/jobs and get applying.
 Desvaux, G., Devillard-Hoellinger, S., and Baumgarten, P. (2007), Women Matter: Gender Diversity, a Corporate Performance Driver, New York: McKinsey and Company
 Herring, C. (2009), “Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity” American Sociological Review, Vol. 74, No. 2; pp.208–224.
Since we opened our doors at Enabled Employment, we’ve been advocating for people who face discrimination when looking for work with out accepting government funding assistance to do so.
We’re still unique, offering job opportunities to our inclusion groups without government funding, ensuring we are able to advocate for our candidates in enquiries, and with employers.
What we have noticed though, particularly when submitting tenders for recruitment, is that employers are taking a broader view of the word ‘diversity’, which is a welcome step forward for the Australian employment market. What employers would like to see is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for diversity, one website where they can employ a person who will make their workforce more representative of the Australian population.
As part of this process it has become apparent that we only represent a portion of what our clients consider ‘diversity’ so we’ve made a decision to expand our candidate groups to ensure that we are inclusive and can offer the opportunities we have to everyone who encompasses this meaning. This has meant adding three more candidate groups including those people from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex and humanitarian refugees.
The value in having a one-stop-shop for employers is that it helps us successfully win tenders for recruitment services, and it will have a positive effect for every inclusion group we represent. If we are successful in bidding for further tenders, we will increase the number of jobs available for you to apply for on our website, and ensure more people are able to enter the workforce with an inclusive and flexible employer.
Whilst we know that this announcement will be welcome from representatives who have strongly been advocating that we make this change, we know that it may cause some concerns for our other candidate groups, and want to ensure that you know we will still be strongly advocating for people with a disability, our former ADF personnel and their family members, carers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and our older Australians and ensuring your voices are heard where it matters.
We are also offering our employers the ability to identify specific diversity groups for identified positions to ensure that we can still cater to those trying to increase their diversity in one specific area. And we still know that the barriers to employment for each group are specific, and we will continue to talk with new and existing employers about the distinct advantages of each inclusion group.
Knowing that, and acknowledging the incredible loyalty of our followers on facebook and twitter, we’ve decided to present our business and our candidates as part of that ‘one-stop-shop’, and we want Enabled Employment to be known as the place to come for diversity for both candidates to find a job, and employers to source candidates representing the diversity of the Australian population as a whole.
At the moment, we are running separate social media sites for each inclusion group we represent. Rather than dividing these audiences, we would like to have one company page which represents all of us, on our social media channels.
We are asking our current followers to migrate across to the Enabled Employment Facebook page, and the Enabled Employment Twitter account.
This will ensure we strengthen the brand of our business, as being the place to come for job opportunities if people face disadvantage in seeking employment, and we can represent a diverse workforce as a stronger, bigger group.
We will be operating our social media accounts at:
Facebook – Enabled Employment at https://www.facebook.com/EnabledEmployment
Twitter – Enabled Employment at @EnabledEmploy
We should be able to merge our Facebook pages without our followers needing to take any action, however we would like to ask all our followers to ‘like’ and ‘follow’ the accounts above, for the latest job updates and news as we will be closing our other accounts by the end of the year and no longer be posting content to them.
Our Twitter followers from the @Employ_Veterans and @Employ_Seniors accounts will need to follow @EnabledEmploy on Twitter, as we cannot automatically merge those accounts, and they will close at the end of the year.
We look forward to seeing you on our main company accounts.
The definition of disability we use is ‘any limitation, restriction or impairment which restricts everyday activities and has lasted or is likely to last for at least six months’.
Many people who are injured in the workplace do not regard themselves as having a disability. But the reality is, if you take longer than six months to recover from injury, you have an acquired disability, regardless of whether you are claiming workers compensation or not.
For the purposes of a workers compensation claim though, the definition of disability is linked to a lump sum payout for permanent impairment. This presents a problem. There’s a huge industry around ‘rehabilitation’ after a workplace injury. Thousands and thousands are spent on returning injured employees to work, with the objective of reinstating pre-injury capability and duties, and reducing the cost of an individual’s medical bills and income support. The objective of ‘rehabilitation’ is to return an individual to permanent health, and eventually remove the income support and liability for medical bills. And that can take years.
Insurance companies operate on the basis of income – they don’t make a profit from premiums if people continue to make long term claims for income support and medical bills. The objective is to return a worker to pre-injury status as fast as possible. Initially, at least, this feels like support.
However, in a claim that goes past the six month point – as many do – there is much more pressure on the individual to meet the insurers objectives – not always suiting their individual needs.
An injured worker, under the medical model of disability – as we’ve mentioned in blogs in the past - is considered a ‘success’ in their rehabilitation program , if returned to work without any reasonable adjustment or flexible working conditions. The employee must ‘heal’ entirely.
That’s not always going to happen. For many people, a longer period of time is required – which is not something insurance companies prefer, as it means forking out for medical treatment longer and incurring more and more costs over time.
When is a workplace injury a disability?
Here’s a radical thought. If we consider a person who is injured on the job as a person with a disability after six months – under the Australian Bureau of Statistics definition – then the way we treat that employee in the workplace must change.
Rather than pressure on the employee to perform the same duties with the same conditions of service as pre-injury, employers and insurers can accept that post six months, an injured worker should have permanent access to the conditions and reasonable adjustments on the job that a person with a disability may request in order to perform equally with their colleagues and compared to their pre-injury performance.
If rehabilitation providers and employers accept that if an injured employee is not returned to pre-injury duties within six months, a process should be put in place to treat the injury as a disability for the purposes of reasonable adjustment, access to flexible working conditions and job re-design, then the pressure to ‘heal’ the injury is reduced, and the stress around losing accessible working conditions is eased – ensuring that stress about future employment is minimised, and ensuring that employers must consider flexible working conditions as a permanent measure.
The pressure to ‘heal’
In any workers’ compensation case, pressure to return to pre-injury duties with pre-injury conditions is a very heavy burden on an injured employee, and a person with an injury can feel ‘blamed’ for not ‘healing’ their injury sooner. The psychological stress associated with this point in the process is extreme, and non-compensable – but if the psychological pressure is reduced, better outcomes for injured workers are more assured.
Another unacknowledged problem, particularly in the case of our Australian Defence Force personnel injured while serving is the time it takes for an initial claim to be processed – during which time a person may be out of work and relying on Centrelink for an income while trying to pay for medical bills and support a family. It can take months for a claim to be processed, and during that time, support is not forthcoming.
By putting in place an interim support system, particularly for our ex-ADF personnel, which does not admit liability for insurance purposes but offers support to recover and return to a work environment with flexible working conditions, such as home based work, results only work environments and adaptive technology, and ensuring permanent access to these conditions, injured workers at the six month point will be reassured that they are supported to heal, adapt, and progress their lives.
Why aren’t we doing this already?
The simple fact in compensation and injuries on the job – particularly mental health conditions or in Department of Veterans Affairs claims – is that if a person is treated as having a disability after six months, there is a legal precedent to pay compensation for permanent impairment.
Until the legal precedent for permanent impairment is changed to allow the treatment of workers injured on the job as having a disability after the six month point, employers must treat the employee as having a work related injury under the compensation system, and the focus is on returning a worker to pre-injury duties or capability, no matter the psychological stress this causes.
Insurers are desperate to minimise the cost of claims. Workers’ are desperate for support and medical bill payment and reimbursement for the cost of time off work. The system has pressure on it that is purely financial, and for that reason, most cases are approached, eventually, as a cost per benefit analysis. The model is driven by money, not care or empathy. Part of the pain of any workers’ compensation process is the cold reality of being a ‘cost’ or a ‘burden’, and facing hostile medico legal practitioners who it can seem, are only interested in accepting a consultant’s fee for reporting to an insurer that you are a malingerer.
For anyone who has had to claim workers’ compensation for an injury, or apply for support from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, it can be a harrowing and highly personalised targeted process which does not acknowledge the individual, only the cost of the potential medical bills and income support.
Separate the medico-legal process and compensation part of the claim from the support to return to a work environment or income support, and there is potential to reduce the stress on the injured worker, whether civilian or military, and allow them the freedom to build confidence, find suitable work and be assessed on the basis of their reasonable adjustment and accessibility needs on a permanent basis as a person with a disability and the stress is reduced leading to better injury outcomes and better support on a personal level, with conditions of service for any employer that enable them to work comfortably and safely at pre-injury levels, but with altered work conditions which include all possible reasonable adjustments and conditions.
Flexible working and results only work environments
Flexible working conditions – including home based work, part time work, a gradual return to full time hours – and a results only work environment can be enormously helpful to a person with an acquired disability. For example, a person who has post-traumatic stress may benefit from home based work and a results only work environment, allowing them to work at their own pace to achieve work projects and targets at a time of day which suits them. This may not be a nine to five proposition, if that person has insomnia as a symptom, they may find themselves working at 3am simply because their Circadian Rhythm is reversed, and asleep at 3pm. The performance is better, as cognition is actually better at 3am rather than 3pm, and better work results will be achieved.
Our recent submissions, for example, into the ACT Government Insecure Work Inquiry and the ACT Government Inquiry into Disability Employment, were written at these times over a week or so including weekends, by our Media Liaison and Communications Manager who has flexible working conditions and a results only work environment.
A results only work environment encourages self pacing and delivery of work within a set time, no matter what time of day or night, or what day of the week the work is done.
If all injured workers are reclassified as people with an acquired disability after the six month point, and given access to flexible work and results only work environments, and if they are properly supported to return to work from the point at which they lodge a workers compensation claim or a DVA claim, I suspect the outcomes would improve for the insurers, and the individual claimant.
There have been times in my life where all I’ve needed is a foot in the door and a chance to prove myself. One such opportunity presented itself as a short term contract with a public service department when I was 26, and once I was able to show my worth on the job during that three month contract, I was able to demonstrate the skills and on-the-job knowledge I had learned in an interview and land the job permanently. From an entry level clerical position, I was promoted to an executive level over time.
If I hadn’t had the opportunity of a short term contract, I may not have taken this path at all. And the same goes for many others who join the public sector, or any other industry, as labour hire or short term contractors. The fact is, it’s the foot in the door we might need to prove to people that we are just as capable as anyone else.
Labour hire and short term contracts are labelled ‘insecure work’, and while those roles advertised as such provide businesses and organisations with the seasonal flexibility they might need, and provide people at a disadvantage with much needed income and experience, it is not well liked by the traditional industrial relations system. There have been numerous inquiries into the issue of insecure work over the last few years by nearly all states and territories in Australia, because there are companies which pop up on social media sites who exploit vulnerable workers.
Labour hire and short term contracts are also disliked by the traditional industrial relations system, as workers are often paid a loading on their wage rather than given leave, and entitlements are under the labour hire company’s applicable award rather than the employers enterprise agreement.
In the absence of proper and fair employment opportunities for people in our inclusion groups, ‘insecure’ work can be a desperately needed ‘in’.
Insecure work is advantageous to some people, for different reasons. For our inclusion groups, it offers firstly an opportunity to gain experience in an industry, while earning an income, and casual work (such as contracting for 3, 6 or 12 months to either an employer or under a labour hire arrangement) can also provide the opportunity to gain references, experience, and build a resume – leading to a better long term employment outcome.
Part time work suits many people with a disability who are managing a condition, carers who are balancing their caring responsibilities with working, and senior Australians who may want to work part-time as a lead in to retirement. Often, in our experience, a worker with a disability who has the opportunity to work in a non-ongoing role will not only receive the benefit of the experience and references, but will have better confidence in managing their condition while working, and better confidence in themselves and their skills and abilities.
More importantly, they will also change attitudes in the workplace, an often overlooked benefit to employing a person with a disability, opening up opportunities not only for themselves but for other people with a disability by challenging the stereotypes that exist around disability and working.
And a short term temporary role can also be a great interim measure for those leaving the Australian Defence Force, or their supporting family, who have accompanied that former Defence Force member on posting or had a forced break in work caring for children and holding down the home front while they were on active service.
Frankly, in the absence of targeted employment programs, there’s no equality in opportunity.
Employers, including government and private sector large enterprises, haven’t seen the light yet. In the absence of employment programs – such as suitably paid internships and traineeship programs – there’s no other way some people can access work opportunities.
Employers spend up on recruiting university graduates, and their first year on the job – rotating their work through different areas of their business to train them in every aspect of that company or organisation’s operations. Having invested in their training and development, and ensured their corporate knowledge is brought up to speed incredibly quickly, they have a valuable and knowledgeable worker who can be fast tracked into permanent work.
When it comes to people with a disability, ex-ADF, carers and seniors, there’s not a lot of investment going on.
Any system can fail
The enquiries being undertaken are a valuable insight into the way in which people who are vulnerable are being exploited, and they are, by disreputable companies which pop up one day on with an advertisement on social media and disappear the next. Particular industries with seasonal work are affected, such as fruit picking and retail around Christmas time.
It might surprise you to know that we comply with over 100 Acts and their associated Regulations around Australia as a recruitment company.
It becomes obvious that an unscrupulous operator in the industry can do whatever they like, because they don’t care about complying with the law. Exploiting vulnerable workers is simply too easy because the compliance is too complicated, and because people are desperate to work.
Enabled Employment’s position on insecure work
We’re arguing that if employers and government are going to cut out temporary and labour hire work, without substituting a program to hire veterans, their families, people with a disability, seniors and carers, then they’re cutting out the ‘foot in the door’ that people might need to start their career, or continue it after moving or caring for a person, or managing a condition, illness or disability.
There’s enough compliance measures built in to those 100+ Acts and Regulations around Australia to ensure there shouldn’t be disreputable and unethical operators in the labour hire market, IF the compliance is undertaken diligently by all parties. It is overly complex, though, and could be simplified to ensure better compliance.
Make sure you’re safe online
If you are considering inquiring about a job advertisement online, particularly on social media, always check the company advertising the job has a website, an Australian Business Number or Company Number, and a contact phone number. Enquire as to which Award the job is under, and what the rates of pay are – and the entitlements.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam operator, contact the Fair Work Commission in your state or territory.