Unwrapping diversity and inclusion in business

As the daughter of Vietnamese Australians my parent’s cultural heritage, views and work ethics have influenced every aspect of my life. Growing up, my parents instilled in me the ability to value myself and appreciate my differences. For me, this is what diversity and inclusion is all about.

Today, diversity has the ability to positively impact every single workplace. A diverse workplace brings together people from different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, religions and sexes in an environment that celebrates their differences.

The concept of diversity and inclusion is relatively simple. Accept people who are different, invite them on your journey and include them – make everyone feel like part of the team. Being able to value diversity allows businesses to deliver and connect with a wider range of customers and it also engages them by allowing them to bring different ideas, suggestions and solutions to the workplace.

Right now, there are more than 7.5 million people living in Australia who were born overseas; and together, they speak over 300 different languages in their homes. As businesses, it is up to us to support our teams, and that includes the 21 per cent of the population who consider English to be their second language.

When workplaces adopt diversity strategies and engage in diversity planning, they are saying; we want to hear your voice, your opinion matters, and we value the ideas of everyone. In a diverse workplace there are no barriers to communication, every voice is heard and understood. 

Within my company alone, more than 40 per cent of our team were born in another country and over 65 per cent of our team speak a language other than English at home.

What brings us together and makes us a family? How do we communicate?

To be diverse and inclusive requires humanity, respect and compassion. For our team at Pakko, that means we work by our guiding principles of accepting and respecting each other. The key to unlocking this is through practices, policies and guidelines that are meaningful; they have to be relevant to your team and resonate with their backgrounds and the culture in your organisation.

A good diversity and inclusion plan should be tailored to meet the needs of your team. When you are developing or reviewing your existing Diversity and Inclusion plan ask yourself:

Do you know the cultural ethnicities of your organisation?
  • Understanding the backgrounds of your team is the first step to successful communication.
  • Ask your team about their cultural heritages.
  • Educate your entire organisation through cultural lunch and learn sessions.
Is your Diversity and Inclusion plan tailored to suit your organisation?
  • A generic plan isn’t always the best option.
  • Talk to your teams, ask them what they need.
  • Customise your Diversity and Inclusion guidelines according to feedback from your team.
How engaged is your team when it comes to your organisation?
  • The more engaged employees are, the more likely it is you have a successful diversity and inclusion strategy in place.
  • Employees who feel excluded are far less likely to be engaged.

In my experience, there really is no one size fits all approach when it comes to diversity.

For me, best approach is one that is open, honest and speaks to your teams in a way they appreciate and value.

Nina Nguyen, Founder, Pakko