To recruit top talent, New Zealand organisations need to "walk the talk" and develop recruitment strategies to build truly diverse workforces.
Shay Peters, New Zealand director of leading recruitment firm Robert Walters, says more needs to be done to acknowledge the benefits of diversity and prevent discrimination in the workforce.
Robert Walters' Embracing Difference: How to recruit, retain and empower a diverse workforce research released today shows that 82 per cent of respondents believe discrimination still exists in today's workplace.
Although senior management talk about the importance of diversity it often isn't implemented across the organisation.
Of those surveyed, 36 per cent said the benefits of diversity weren't fully understood by their organisation's senior management and 53 per cent were unaware of their organisation's diversity strategy, if one exists at all.
"Organisations need positive role models and leaders who embrace diversity, inspire others to follow, and are aware of where discrimination can occur," Peters says.
The report shows five main benefits of employee diversity:
- staff engagement
- more diverse skills
- creativity and innovation
- boosting the bottom line
- good role models
"It's common sense in many ways – people want to work in an engaging and interesting workplace and diversity plays a big part in this. Businesses need to step up and modernise their recruitment strategies to actively pursue diversity."
The survey shows the number one obstacle that prevents an organisation from achieving diversity is when managers hire like-minded people instead of a diverse mix. The next most common is employers failing to identify or manage unconscious bias.
The three most common ways discrimination is experienced or observed are in the hiring process, remuneration and career development, according to the research.
Another area the survey explores is gender diversity as research shows that fewer men than women were aware of the gender pay gap that exists in New Zealand.
"Gender diversity is key at all levels of an organisation. There is plenty that organisations can be doing to facilitate diverse workforces, such as creating flexible working practices and implementing career progression strategies," says Peters.
"We challenge organisations to work towards an inclusive, balanced workforce. Organisations must look at where they are in their diversity journey, develop a strategic approach to retain and empower a diverse workforce, and most importantly put the strategy in to action."
Respondents said the top three strategies that best address workforce diversity are recruitment processes to mitigate unconscious bias, flexible working arrangements for parents, and a diversity strategy that is clearly and widely communicated to everyone.
The research was based on an online survey of more than 1000 professionals in Australia and New Zealand from a broad range of industries in the public and private sectors.