Ways to show your workplace is accessible and inclusive

There’s a shortage of workers in this tight economy, and one way you can attract skilled people into your workplace is working towards the Diversity Council tick.
Ways to show your workplace is accessible and inclusive

If you’re not sure what terms like linguistic diversity, biphobia, interphobia, or heteronormativity mean, your workplace might not be one of Diversity Council Australia’s Inclusive Employers.

Valuing diversity and inclusivity is more than just some words attached to your brand. There’s a shortage of workers in this tight economy, and one way you can attract skilled people into your workplace is working towards the Diversity Council tick.

Now is a great time to start putting in place policies and plans to broaden your inclusivity.

If you think your workplace is too mainstream, consider these statistics from the Diversity Council of Australia:

  • Nearly one in five people in Australia have a disability – that’s 4.4 million Australians.
  • Over 28 per cent of Australians are born overseas.
  • The LGBTQIA+ community makes up 11 per cent of the population.
  • Indigenous Australians make up 2.8 per cent of the population.
  • Single women over 60 are the lowest income earners in Australia.

The 2021-2022 Inclusion@Work Index found that workplace inclusion was a significant factor in increasing performance, well-being, satisfaction and innovation. The results proved that workers in inclusive teams were 10 times more likely to be innovative than those in non-inclusive teams and 11 times more likely to be highly effective.

How can we ensure that workplaces are inclusive and accessible?

Begin by making your workplace appealing with better physical accessibility and inclusion. Physical accessibility and inclusion are essential to fostering a safe environment for all employees. What’s more, it’ll make employees stick around, so you’ll also get the added benefit of less employee turnover.

Ensuring that all areas of the workspace are accessible to employees, regardless of ability, is a foundational step and is required to ensure compliance with national disability legislation.

Other ways in which physical accessibility can be improved include:

  • Ensuring there is accessible signage.
  • Ensure clear access from the street to the workplace.
  • Create adequate lighting in walkways and in the workplace.
  • Build accessible toilets.
  • Implement technology that is accessible to all. This may include technology used in the workplace such as conference rooms or meeting facilities, or virtually (for example, enabling closed captioning in online meetings).

So, what does the Diversity Council suggest?

In 2017, the Diversity Council of Australia conducted the first Inclusion@Work survey to map and understand the state of inclusion in the Australian workforce and encourage organisations to achieve inclusion in their workplaces. Asking questions that cover everything from job satisfaction and mental health to innovation and teamwork gives a comprehensive understanding of the state of your workplace, and if your organisation is looking to create a long-lasting and high-performing team, it’s time to start investing in building on your inclusion at work.

Cultural inclusion is a public statement by your business: we take diversity seriously

One of the main ways to implement cultural and social inclusion in the workplace is by writing them into the key values of the business.

How? Describe inclusivity in your policies, branding, advertisements, and marketing.

  • Consider outlining a commitment to diversity and inclusion within a code of conduct.
  • Provide training to employees on diversity, inclusion, awareness, and accessibility.
  • Draft effective discrimination and harassment policies that are regularly reviewed and effectively enforced. Citation HR offers workplace policy templates you can customise for your business.

Celebrate days of significance for marginalised groups

It’s important to not only ensure that employees feel safe at work, but also accepted and celebrated. Honouring days of significance is a great way to demonstrate this and retain staff. There are multiple days throughout the year that can be recognised to champion diversity in the workplace, such as IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersex Discrimination and Transphobia) which is on May 17. Days of significance like this can be recognised by organising gatherings like morning teas, where the whole workplace can come together to celebrate diversity and inclusion.

Enabling accessibility and inclusion for individual employees

For some, employee well-being in the workplace may require specific adjustments to ensure a person’s workplace is accessible and inclusive to them. Reasonable adjustments might include changes to work processes, practices, or environments, such as flexible working hours, the ability to work from home, or the integration of specific furniture or technology. Employees may have a specific entitlement to request adjustments through flexible working arrangements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including employees over 55, with carers responsibilities, with disabilities, or caring for someone experiencing family violence. Reasonable adjustments can be vital to ensuring employees feel safe and supported in their roles and should be seriously considered and implemented wherever possible.

chat icon

Don’t reinvent the wheel – reach out to Citation HR for expertise. We help thousands of businesses with their workplace relations needs.

About our author

Ricqui Bradley is a Workplace Relations Advisor at Citation HR. She assists clients with a range of employment relations and compliance matters via the 24/7 HR Advice Line. She is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts/Laws (Honours).

Take your business to the next level

What are you interested in?
Your data will be processed inline with our Privacy Policy.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.