“Many organisations strive for a diverse workforce, but when you look at the current situation in New Zealand we see that reality falls short of these lofty ambitions,” says Jason Walker, managing director of Hays in New Zealand.
The recruitment company based its findings on a survey of 303 employers and employees in late 2014 to map diversity in New Zealand workplaces.
“One problem is that when people think of diversity, they often focus on gender diversity alone. But a truly diverse workforce is one inclusive of people of various genders, ages, cultural backgrounds and people with physical and mental disabilities,” says Walker.
“In this context, few organisations in New Zealand 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,” he states.
He stresses the importance of the issue: “The benefits of diversity are that it can create a highly-engaged workforce that in turn will drive productivity and innovation, and therefore profitability.”
In the survey, 55 per cent of employees said their organisation’s public face and the way they portray themselves on issues like diversity is not a true representation of the real business culture.
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Of these, 34 per cent said diversity is not a genuine concern for the organisation, 29 per cent said the public face is a goal not reality, and 24 per cent said line managers fail to genuinely embrace policies such as diversity when they recruit.
Moreover, just 56 per cent of organisations value mature-age workers, 29 per cent employ people with a disability and 72 per cent employ people from various cultural backgrounds.
The survey finds 53 per cent of respondents are not satisfied with the career path available to women at their organisation.
“Over recent years there has been a notable increase in the number of diversity initiatives within both private and public sector organisations,” notes Walker.
“Yet those efforts do not seem to be achieving the changes we need to see. There are numerous reasons why organisations fall short of delivering on their diversity strategies. For some the challenge is about hiring or promotion mechanisms. For others, it is due to branding the diversity plan in a certain way, not securing executive commitment, or using ineffective training techniques."
Some organisations suffer from “diversity fatigue” after months or years of implementing diversity programs, according to the report. This could be caused by lack of executive involvement, to failure to link programs with a business case, or lack of accountability.
The report notes, however, that organisations known for diversity regularly monitor and report their progress in promoting the issue.
Once committed to diversity, it is important to create indicators to monitor progress towards hiring and retaining a diverse workforce, it says.
“It is important for an organisation’s top executive to monitor progress, and perhaps even be accountable for results, and of course support all programs to encourage diversity to take place,” the report states.
The CEO should visibly champion diversity, it states “Without such drive from above, even the most supportive manager of diversity can struggle to create real change.”
• 67% of employees say their organisation is gender diverse;
• 53% are not satisfied with the career path available to women at their organisation;
• 54% say there is not a balance of male and female representation at the senior executive level;
• 45% of employers say women are equally represented in leadership positions;
• 64% say a clear maternity leave policy is available.
• 68% of employees say their organisation has a workforce of various ages;
• But 23% say their organisation does not value mature-age workers;
• Just 32% of employers have plans in place to retain mature-aged staff.
• 72% of employees say their organisation has a workforce of various cultural backgrounds;
• And 77% of employers are committed to recruiting a multi-cultural workforce;
• 62% of employees said immigrants face discrimination when it comes to accessing or gaining employment in New Zealand.
• 29% of employees say their organisation’s workforce includes people with a disability.
Source: Hays report on ‘The balancing act: Creating a diverse workforce’
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