Have you travelled to a destination outside of Australia and experienced another culture? It is this awareness of outside influences, new ideas and exciting possibilities that can widen your perspective and break down barriers. As an individual, you should embrace diversity wholeheartedly. Your life will be all the richer for it. Diversity will open you up to all kinds of new opportunities and help change stereotypes for the better.
As Australia is a melting pot of influences, perhaps it is time to get to know the diverse group of people you work with. While there may be some obvious differences, you may also find you have a lot in common.
Diversity involves the inclusion of people of a different race, sex, religion or culture. People from other countries or races, can often be stereotyped as something they are not. Consider the reputation of Australians abroad. We don’t all say ‘gidday mate’ and nor are we constantly throwing our shrimps on the barbie.
Everyone is a product of their own interests, personalities, likes and dislikes. It is not the country we are born in, or our religion or race, that sums us up entirely. It is just a part of who we are. The rest of our uniqueness is equally as important.
If you are hesitant to muster the confidence to chat to someone from a different cultural background or religion, think about how they might feel as an outsider. Meeting new people is interesting and you never know maybe they wanted to meet you as well but were afraid to make the first move.
You might be concerned about not saying the right thing or acting inappropriately, but without asking questions and listening to what others have to say, you will never learn.
While you may not be knowingly discriminating against someone, discrimination in the workplace is still a huge issue. The wheels of society seem to move slowly when it comes to this topic, and often it feels like we are taking two steps forward and one step backward in combatting the problem. Women discriminate against men, men against women and all manner of discrimination occurs on a daily basis against race, colour, sex, age, religion, nationality and even disability.
We sometimes have misconceptions and biases, even if we are not aware of them and the only way to improve how you handle diversity is to deal with people as individuals and empower each other to succeed regardless of background or culture.
If your company celebrates Christmas and Easter, then add a bit of multiculturalism to your events by incorporating the Mid-Autumn Festival, Pancake Day or St Patrick’s Day. Mix it up so everyone feels included. Diversity should be applauded and celebrated. If you notice that discrimination, either directly or indirectly, is occurring in your workplace, you need to step in and help stop it. Discrimination complaints must be taken seriously – at all levels.
If you would like to learn more about the fascinating topic of Workplace Diversity, along with strategies to overcome hurdles and encourage diversity, check out our eCourse. As we know from history, it only takes one person to effect change and influence others.