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Landmark research reveals the state of inclusion in Australian workplaces

5 February 2018

Ground-breaking research has thrown a spotlight on the importance of inclusion in Australia’s workplaces. 

Led by Diversity Council Australia and sponsored by Suncorp, the Inclusion@Work Index surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,000 Australian workers. It clearly identifies the benefits of inclusion and the need for Australian companies to put words into action and invest in creating inclusive places to work.

The survey found that inclusion is good for customers and for employees. Workers in inclusive teams are almost five times more likely to indicate their team provides excellent customer/client service.  Employees working in an inclusive team are 19 times more likely to be very satisfied with their job.  

"The DCA-Suncorp Inclusion@Work Index establishes the first national index of inclusion experiences of Australian workers and found there was a high level of support for inclusion in Australian workplaces with some 75 per cent of people in support or strong support of inclusion programs," Diversity Council Australia CEO Lisa Annese said.  

The study found that employees in inclusive teams are: 

  • 19 times more likely to be very satisfied with their job compared to workers in non-inclusive workplaces (58% to 3%)  
  • 10 times more likely to be highly effective (58% to 6%)
  • 9 times more likely to innovate (45% to 5%)
  • 4 times more likely to stay with their employer over the coming year (62% to 16%).

"Despite these benefits, we found that people who don’t belong to a particular minority or diversity group, such as men from Anglo-cultural backgrounds and older men, are less supportive of inclusion programs,” Ms Annese said.

“It was also revealed that more than one in five Australian workers experienced discrimination or harassment last year alone (22%). This figure spiked to 38 per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, followed closely by Australians with a disability (34%) and Australians under 30 (30%)." 

Suncorp CEO & Managing Director Michael Cameron said creating a more inclusive workplace encourages greater diversity, which leads to better business performance. 

“We sponsored this research because we know the value of having an inclusive work environment and the positive impact it can have across industries. The findings will start important conversations that lead to more inclusiveness in all types of organisations,” Mr Cameron said.

“Our businesses perform at their best when leaders provide an environment where people feel included, connected and valued.”

Ms Annese added, "The main thing is that we see this as an opportunity – one where we not only provide safe and inclusive workplaces for our employees, but also boost business outcomes along the way.

“Cutting harassment and increasing job satisfaction has significant repercussions. And inclusion as it turns out plays a much bigger part in achieving this than we previously knew – our research provides the missing piece of statistical evidence about just how important it is.

“With currently one in two Australians reporting to work in an inclusive team, it’s good to remember that this can be done and with the right benchmarks in place we hope to see companies address this over the coming year.

“What this research has also made abundantly clear is the strong support for Australian employers to invest in inclusive workplaces, and the overwhelming business and employee benefits of doing so,” she said.

INCLUSION@WORK IN SUNCORP

At Suncorp, we believe diversity and inclusion work together. We focus on building an inclusive culture to support our diverse workforce and leverage the diversity of thought, backgrounds, and experiences that brings.

This creates greater innovation, a deeper understanding of our customers’ needs and ultimately improved business performance. It also means employees can be themselves at work, and feel valued and respected for their perspectives and contribution. Here are some examples of what Suncorp has achieved by building supportive and inclusive practices. Fostering an inclusive culture will continue to be a focus at Suncorp.

Success through focused action.

Suncorp’s diversity and inclusion journey started with gender equality. We recognised we had a gap in our business with a gender imbalance in our leadership roles. Therefore, we initially focused on lifting the representation of women in senior leader roles and growing our pipeline of female talent.

Our approach to gender equality has enabled us to achieve gender balance in leadership roles (49.6% female leaders as at September 2017). We have also increased the proportion of females in senior leader roles from 31% in 2011 to 43% in 2017. This is an achievement of which we are particularly proud.

Today our goal is to embed gender equality for women and for men in every respect. This includes aiming for equality in representation at all levels in the organisation, pay, and equal access to promotion, development and career opportunities. And we continue to support a broad range of events including honouring International Men’s Day and International Women’s Day.

Along with an engaged business and committed leaders, our success is driven in part by our passionate Diversity Council, chaired by our CEO & Managing Director, and keen interest from the Suncorp Board. This ensures senior leader commitment and focused action to create a diverse workforce and inclusive culture.

Recognising flexibility as a key enabler.

Flexibility – where and when we work, and the way we work – is a fundamental enabler of inclusion. As a key focus for us, we were very proud to win Best Workplace Flexibility Program at the 2015 Australian HR Awards.

Suncorp is committed to supporting workforce flexibility to meet the needs of our people, our customers and the business. We offer a broad range of flexible work practices, including several varieties of part time work options, job share, different start and finish times, and flexibility using long service and flexible leave. We also have an advanced ‘Smart Environment’ which enables our people to work at home and in remote or regional locations.

In a recent employee survey (November 2016), 82% of our employees answered favourably about working flexibly to suit their personal and business needs.

In addition to our employees working from home on a regular basis, an example of flexibility in action at Suncorp is the 600 plus people who work from our dedicated Work@Home Hubs. These employees work flexible hours in their homes as part of a virtual team, coming together in the hub only for monthly team meetings and training. These hubs have enabled us to tap into a quality pool of part-time employees, who are seeking flexible work, improved work-life balance and great job satisfaction.

People really appreciate being part of a great team and achieving strong results, while also being able to focus on their life priorities, from health and wellbeing, carers responsibilities, and study, through to sport and running their own business.

Encouraging our people to connect and share.

We encourage our people to bring fresh ideas and perspectives, be their best and bring their ‘whole self’ to work. Employee resource groups (ERGs) are grassroots initiatives created by our people to come together around a common purpose. Passionate Suncorp leaders sponsor these groups, helping to lift awareness and coach contributing members.

Our employees are the people that embody diversity and inclusion at Suncorp and ERGs can be as unique as the members who comprise them. Suncorp has two well established groups, and other budding groups around a range of topics. Suncorp’s Lean in Circles, commenced with a clear purpose to bring women and men together to strive toward gender equality. This group is now actively influencing the broader agenda at Suncorp through their research and events, providing a tangible impact on the careers and lives of Lean In members. Amplify launched in March 2017 to support LGBTIQ+ inclusion. Following engagement with Pride in Diversity, they have a program which includes training and events across Suncorp.

This year, Suncorp supported the Taste of Harmony initiative around Harmony Day to celebrate the cultural diversity of our people and build respect and inclusion. We encouraged people to organise a lunch or morning tea and bring a plate of food that represented their cultural background to share with colleagues. Over 4,000 of our people participated in more than 150 Taste of Harmony events across Australia and New Zealand.

Inclusion for our customers and communities.

Suncorp is one of 12 founding companies participating in the Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP), which seeks to help Australians who are at risk of exclusion from access to financial services. Our FIAP seeks to improve customers’ financial inclusion and financial wellbeing, specifically supporting people who are financially vulnerable and from culturally diverse backgrounds. Suncorp is also committed to increasing cultural and linguistic diversity to continue to reflect the communities in which we work and live, and the customers we serve. To support both perspectives, we have started to develop employment pathway opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, migrants and refugees.

We recognise the increasing aged caring responsibilities of our people and our customers. Our over 50s insurance brand, APIA, has teamed up with Five.Good.Friends., an innovative in-home care provider. We see this as an inclusive and complementary service to improve our customers’ and their families’ overall wellbeing, by providing access to information and support to help enable people to stay longer in their own homes.

Overall, inclusion is an inward and outward looking concept for us. We believe building greater Inclusion@Work enhances our business, as well as our people, customers and communities.

Endnotes.

  1. Most measures of national workplace inclusion consist of indirect statistical indicators such as the workforce representation and remuneration statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
  2. Workers in Inclusive Teams scored their team on average at least 4 or above out of 5 on survey questions asking how included they felt in their team (where 5 = very included, 3 = neither included or not included, and 1 = not included at all). Workers in Non-Inclusive Teams scored their team on average less than 3 out of 5.
  3. Where we have indicated that inclusive teams/ leaders were “X times more likely” than non-inclusive teams/managers to be effective, innovative, work hard etc. for ease of reading we have rounded up or down the original number to be a whole number (e.g. 9.7 times has been rounded up to 10 times).
  4. Culturally Diverse refers to respondents who identified only with a non-Main English Speaking Country cultural background, while non-Culturally Diverse refers to respondents who identified only with an Australian or a Main English Speaking Country cultural background. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines Main English Speaking Countries as United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, United States of America and South Africa.
  5. Anglo-cultural background refers to respondents who identified only with Main English Speaking country cultural backgrounds (i.e. as defined by ABS, these being the UK, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ireland).

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