SAVE THE DATE - REEFWA IR CONFERENCE 2024 - 11 October 2024

Equal Opportunity, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Equal Opportuity

Equal employment opportunity is in place to prevent and eliminate discrimination in the
workplace. Discrimination is any practice that makes distinctions between individuals or
groups of individuals on unlawful or prescribed grounds so as to treat some less
favourably. It may result from a variety of unreasonable or inappropriate behaviours
such as harassment and/or workplace bullying.


This can be targeted directly at an individual or indirectly where it appears that all
people are treated equally, but the impact of this ‘equal treatment’ is that a person or
group is treated less favourably than another.

What is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is about embracing, respecting, and valuing
individual differences. Diversity describes the real and perceived differences and
similarities between individuals, which includes attributes such as:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Race
  • Culture
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Education level
  • Experiences (e.g. life or work)
  • Socio-economic background (social identity)
  • Marital status
  • Caring responsibilities
  • Religious beliefs
  • Neurodiversity

 

DEI programs have been widely embraced by many organisations, with businesses
viewing it as a necessity to be successful in today’s dynamic society. Current research
indicates that adopting DEI programs can be very beneficial for business, at the
individual, team, and organisational level. However, the misconception of why to have
DEI and how to successfully implement DEI programs has resulted in many businesses
failing to feel the full benefits of DEI

What do Employers Need to Know

Employers should be aware of potential discrimination and situations where equal
opportunity and DEI can be hindered. Some of these areas can include recruitment,
where candidates are disadvantaged or excluded due to their characteristics such as
their marital status or age. When providing opportunities for employees, be aware not
to indirectly discriminate against groups, who for example work reduced hours, as this
could be considered indirect discrimination against parents who may be working
reduced hours to facilitate caring responsibilities.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within Leadership

Inclusion in an organisation should start with the leadership and management team/s
as they set the standard for the workplace culture. To aim to reach inclusive workplace
practices, leadership should have the following mindset attributes:

  • Identity aware: being aware of how they view themselves and employees.
  • Relational: create and support a team that come from diverse backgrounds.
  • Open and curious: open to different suggestions to purse innovative ideas.
  • Flexible and agile: responsive to different ideas and can provide solutions as
    required.
  • Growth-focused: support changes to support DEI in the workplace.

(Building Inclusion: An evidence-based model of inclusive leadership, DCA, 2015)

Incorporating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Practices in Recruitment

Employers should consider implementing practices throughout the recruitment process
to encourage and attract candidates from diverse backgrounds and possess different
characteristics. Practices seen below may be adopted by an organisation to enhance the
recruitment and selection process.

Employee Value Proposition

An employee value proposition is a concept that includes how a workplace attracts and
retains talent to how an employee describes the workplace to a person external to the
organisation. Candidates seek organisations that have a culture and values that align with
their own values and beliefs. Employers should have the company values and information
about the organisation accessible to potential candidates and this can be included in a
position advert. In displaying the company values and information, the organisation
would be able to attract candidates that have values that align with the organisation and
vice versa.

Recruitment Policy

Employers should have a clear recruitment and selection policy in place to aim to
eliminate discrimination occurring throughout the recruitment process.

Requirements of the Role

Organisations should create a position description which includes what the role entails
and any pre-requisites required and providing the position description alongside the
advert. Having a clear position description with areas listed such as skills, knowledge,
experience, and what tasks will be required, will assist when it comes to shortlisting
candidates against the position criteria. A consideration whether the role could be flexible
or part-time may attract parents, or in the advert if experience is required, you could
avoid specifying the number of years but listing knowledge required to enable younger
candidates to apply.

Shortlisting

Creating a shortlist allows you to go through the candidates to narrow down those that
will proceed. Candidates should be assessed for the shortlist based on the role
requirements and if they have the required experience, knowledge, skills and would be
able to complete the required tasks. It is important to keep an open mind and not
discriminate based on a candidate’s characteristics such as, race, age, sex or marital
status (not an exhaustive list).

The Interview

When it comes to interviews, the interviewers should be provided with and aware of the
recruitment policy, diversity and inclusion policy and the role requirements. The
interviewers should reflect the organisations diversity and be comprised of people from
different backgrounds and different genders (where possible). Prior to conducting the
interview, have set questions to ask each candidate to ensure the process is fair to all.
Make sure questions relate to the role and prior experience and avoid asking questions
that could be discriminatory, for example, “do you have children you need to pick up from
school?”. An alternative would be to provide what the working hours are, and ask the
candidate, if successful would they be able to work the required hours. Any further testing
that is required following the interview should be directly related to the role.

Reference Checks and Selection

Reference checks should be completed after an interview has taken place with the same
questions asked of the references with the questions specific to the role. It is also crucial
to only contact the references that the candidate has provided. In selecting the successful
candidate, ensure all criteria collected is considered that is specific to the role to help
make the final decision as to which candidate will be offered the role.

Further Best Practice Considerations

To encourage and facilitate a workplace that practices equal opportunity and DEI, it is
crucial to have workplace policies and systems in place that promote it. A policy may
provide information around treating all employees with respect and equally, which may
expand to discuss strategies on how the business works towards achieving a diverse and
inclusive environment.

Strategies may include a commitment to a safe and discrimination-free environment
and facilitating cultural practices, such as procedures for taking ceremonial leave. A
policy should also include an internal complaints procedure for employees who believe
they are being subject to discrimination or treated unfairly including where to direct
employees if they wish to make an external complaint. Employees should also receive
training when the policy is introduced, and refresher training should also be provided to
employees.

Best DEI practices go beyond policies and procedures. Please see below list that you can
consider:

  • A diversity and inclusion council or gender equality council made up of
    interested employees may be used to advocate for raising awareness on issues
    pertaining to gender equality. The council may be responsible for creating and
    implementing a gender diverse strategy, ensuring leadership are accountable
    and facilitating the alignment of other business policies and practices in the
    organisation with the council.
  • A business may appoint champions in the business to promote DEI, which may
    be a senior leader in the business, separate to the Human Resources function. A
    champion would be someone that provides information to employees on DEI,
    supports and encourages employees to promote inclusion and diversity
    practices, be a role model and put forward ideas on how to improve workplace
    practices to be in line with DEI.
  • Implementing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which is a plan put in place to
    commit to strengthening relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
    people. A RAP is a way to plan and put forward measurable goals that the
    business stives to achieve and outlines how the business will improve current
    workplace practices. For more information on RAPS, please see the
    Reconciliation Action Plan website.
  • An interactive way to have employees engaging in DEI is through an awards
    process. These awards can be internal within the business or external to the
    business. These awards can be for businesses, teams or individuals that highlight achievements across categories such as supporting LGBTQIA+, cultural inclusion and other areas. These awards are for the purposes of recognition and not for financial gain. For further information, please see CCIWA’s Diversity and
    Inclusion Awards that you can be involved in.
  • Flexible working arrangements can also be adopted in an organisation in an effort to promote diversity and inclusion. By implementing flexibility in the workplace, it can yield more productivity, flexibility across genders, engage employees who have caring responsibilities, attract and retain talent and have a workplace that is open and adjustable to change.

For further information on this topic call the Employee Relations Advice Centre at CCIWA
on 08 9365 7660 or email advice@cciwa.com

Helpful Resources

CCIWA’s Equal Opportunity, Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace
information sheet provides more detailed information, please see ERAC Information
Sheets.

CCIWA’s Equal Opportunity and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Guide provides more
detailed information and template documents, please see for further information Equal
Opportunity and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Guide.

To find out more information, call the Employee Relations Advice Centre at CCIWA on 08
9365 7660 or email advice@cciwa.com.

Written By Jenny Thomas – Employee Relations Adviser

CCIWA, Business Law WA and REEFWA has taken all reasonable care in preparing this document. The contents of this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific advice for your situation should be sought from CCIWA, Business Law WA or a professional adviser before any action is taken. Neither REEFWA, CCIWA nor Business Law WA accept responsibility for any claim that arises from any person acting or refraining from acting on the information contained in this document.

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