In 2012 we shared the below blog post – but what will 2023 bring – 11 years on?

We will see lots of work on the gender pay-gap and women’s safety at work with the introduction of two key pieces of legislation at the end of 2022, Respect at Work and the IR Bill, opening up important opportunities for women and work.

What exactly are diversity and inclusion?

Diversity is a term that refers to the variety of different perspectives represented on a team. While diversity is related to race and social justice issues, they are facets of a larger conversation. The term represents a broad range of experiences, including gender, sex, socioeconomic background, upbringing, religion, education, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, neurodiversity, and life experience.

Inclusion, on the other hand, means that every individual should have an equal opportunity to access education, resources, opportunities, or any other treatment based on the qualities that make them unique.

Essentially, diversity and inclusion is a conversation about rewriting implicit bias — rooting it out wherever it exists and challenging the idea that different means inferior.

How diversity benefits the workplace

Diversity benefits organizations at all levels. Even beyond the moral imperative or a sense of fairness, the business case for investing in diversity is clear. Studies have shown that groups of people that are diverse in gender, race, and age perform better, make better decisions, and experience more profitability.


One new way of advancing diversity and inclusion in your business is by using the principles behind the 7 Pillars of Inclusion resources developed by Play by the Rules.

Access Access is both physical and attitudinal.  Focus on how to create a more accessible, welcoming environment.
Attitude Attitude is often cited as one of the biggest barriers and underpins all the pillars of inclusion. Without doubt, a positive attitude goes a long way to making inclusion a reality
Choice The focus should be on finding practical ways for all people to participate. Inclusion is about providing this range of options
Partnership Inclusion rarely happens in isolation. For inclusion to work you need to have effective, mutually-beneficial partnerships.
Communication Effective communication is critical to the success of inclusion. Inclusive communication means you may need to change your habits and adapt your methods on how you speak and listen to existing and new employees
Policy For inclusion to become part of core business there needs to be a firm commitment and responsibility to employee protection and complaints resolution. This is best done in the form of policy.
Opportunities New opportunities don’t happen by chance. Often, we need to make practical changes to what we do so that all people get a fair go.

What diversity really means

Post from – 30 July 2012

There has been a trend towards regarding diversity as diversity of thought rather than diversity of demographics, according to a presenter at a recent conference.

The paper was delivered at the 2012 Women in Management Conference conducted by Macquarie University in Sydney on 12 and 13 July 2012.

Juliet Bourke, human capital partner at Deloitte, said that ‚ ‘diversity’ means inclusion and recognising that everyone has a valid point of view that they should be allowed to contribute. The Noah’s Ark metaphor of every demographic group merely being represented at the workplace is inadequate; behaviour at the workplace must be genuinely inclusive.

Know your own stereotypes

Bourke used the metaphor of a ‚ diversity iceberg, in which certain attributes of people are clearly visible but many others ‚ such as talents, sexual orientation, carer’s responsibilities, education, values, and thought processes ‚ are not obvious. Of the visible attributes, the most instantly identified one is race, followed by a position in the organisation hierarchy, then gender.

Stereotyped reactions result from the identification of personal attributes, leading to bias that is often unconscious. Behaviours of others also send cues that can reinforce stereotypes. A stereotype is a pattern of thinking and can be either positive or negative. Past personal experiences also strongly influence what people think.

To encourage diversity, it is important for people to be able to identify their own stereotypes and then manage around them. Bourke described a commercially available tool, the Implicit Association Test supplied by Harvard University, US, that enables users to identify what they really think about other people.

Common types of unconscious bias

The most common unconscious behaviors that act as barriers to diversity are:

  • homophobic‚  being attracted to people similar to yourself because of a desire to connect with others, which can be awkward in situations such as recruitment interviews
  • confirmation bias ‚ looking for evidence to confirm a viewpoint you have already formed
  • attribution error ‚ categorizing of ‚ in groups and ‚ out groups

Bourke concluded by saying that diversity management requires a holistic organisation approach. People need to be able to understand their own behaviours that act as barriers (e.g. those in the list above). Above all, behaving inclusively is the goal.

Identifying the real reasons for bias

Elizabeth Raper, a barrister, emphasized the importance of digging deep to uncover the real reason for having biases and reacting in stereotyped ways. This can be difficult, and real reasons are often not discussed or even explored. Raper said that it requires thinking very critically about how decisions are made, and managing perceptions about bias. The latter will require some regular and very frank conversations.

She reflected on her courtroom experiences to add that women are often very harsh judges of other women, but are usually allowed to get away with it.

Further information For more information about this conference, visit the Macquarie University conference website.

Article obtained from Work Place Info 02/08/2012