Diversity in the workplace: More than just the optics


Planned Resources recruit across the niche markets of planning, engineering, architecture and design, property, and government support. We operate​ across private and public sectors in Melbourne, Victoria, and Australia. Here, we look at diversity – what it is, and how to create an authentically diverse workplace.


In the last decade, the words ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ have rapidly gained pace in the business world with more organisations recognising the value of embracing difference. 

People are an organisation’s greatest asset, and a diverse pool of employees brings different personalities, skills and experiences into the mix. And that’s something to be celebrated. 

But diversity in the workplace should be more than just ‘the right thing to do’. Instead, it’s a chance for organisations to re-evaluate their priorities and build an authentic culture where employees feel truly safe, engaged and inspired.

Diversity: What actually is it? 

Some organisations struggle beyond the “we’re inclusive” tagline and creating policies that feel obligatory, rather than honest. As Diversity Australia points out, having a diverse workplace is more than just hiring a group of diverse people, putting them in a team, and then expecting productivity to lift. Instead true workplace diversity means building an environment of support and where everyone feels they can speak-up and contribute – so everyone feels they can thrive, and not just survive, in the workplace.

So before jumping into diversity it’s key to understand, and honestly review, what diversity really means within your workplace. Is it a policy, a program, an intention? Is it a set of values, behaviours, or attitudes? Is it supported across all levels of the organisation? 

While equity and inclusion are obviously important, organisations should strive to create an authentic environment of belonging and a place where all employees can succeed while being their authentic selves. It’s about creating a tangible culture – at all levels – promoting and leading a values-led workforce, and encouraging diversity in business decisions.

We don’t live in a homogenous community, so why create a homogenous workplace? 

Done right, diversity is a value add. It’s not just how people look or represent; it’s the skills and experience that they bring to the team. Working with a diverse group of people means there’s a melting pot of ideas and different perspectives, challenging all team members to think and grow in different ways. 

The case for establishing a truly diverse workforce yields substantial benefits for an organisation’s culture and employees, it allows organisations to adopt different styles of thinking, adds a different lens to solving challenges, and drives employee engagement. If everyone thinks the same way, an organisation will never grow or innovate.

By supporting greater diversity, companies gain benefits that go beyond just the optics. And as an added bonus organisations appear attractive to jobseekers; a report from Glassdoor Economic Research found that 76 per cent of employees would rather work for an authentically diverse company, with 80 per cent of workers actively selecting to work with organisations that are inclusive.

Difference brings people together

Openly discussing how your organisation wants to support, or improve, workplace diversity builds a stronger community. Diversity is a cause that all employees can actively support and can help to create a workplace where everyone feels valued, seen, and heard – whether they are members of an underrepresented group or an ally.

We like to share advice from advocates such as Stella Young, Ash Beckham, and Luma Mufleh (who we aspire to be like!) and find it a great way to open honest conversations around what diversity actually means in the workplace:

> Stella Young: Writer, comedian and advocate. Watch her TED Talk I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much’

> Ash Beckham: Equality advocate. Watch her TED Talk When to take a stand – and when to let it go

> Luma Mufleh: Refugee activist. Watch her TED Talk Don’t feel sorry for refugees – believe in them.

You can start today

Workplace culture is a constant work in progress, requiring strategic action and long term planning – but there’s still some tangible changes you can make today to start thinking about how diversity is represented in your organisation, including:

  • Every recruiter should be a diversity recruiter (you can also read: Are we biased?)
  • Review your organisation’s job descriptions; are they gender-neutral and attractive to underrepresented candidates? Job descriptions are the first glimpse people receive of your organisation’s culture and values.’
  • Share resources to facilitate respectful conversations: like the Ted Talks above!
  • Develop a set of values and make them real. Don’t just write a list of values on a sheet of paper. Honestly review your organisation’s current workplace, observe your workplace in action, and develop a set of values that support tangible change.
  • Ask questions: Help employees contribute their thoughts by asking them to do so. Ask open questions, get their opinions – and listen. While you may not be able to take on everyone’s advice, asking questions (and really listening) helps to build an environment where everyone feels they can speak-up and be heard.
  • Promote culture from the top down. Inclusive leaders reflect company values and are the building blocks for workplace diversity.

If you’re job searching, don’t be afraid to ask recruiters about diversity. Use your interview as an opportunity to discuss topics around diversity; ask about their workplace culture and values – it will help you to determine if the organisation is the right fit for you.


By: Planned Resources

Your gender, gods, sex life, skin colour or your bigshot white uncle don’t make a difference here. If you’re smart and good at what you do, come as you are.

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