A new survey has found that the majority of Australian professionals still feel as though there are unfair barriers to career progression due to employers not placing greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion within their businesses.
The 2018–2019 Diversity and Inclusion Report, conducted by recruiting company Hays, has revealed that 63 per cent of Aussie workers have felt as though their chances for progression have been limited at least once in their career because of their sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, gender or a disability.
Further, 56 per cent of respondents believe that there has been at least one occasion where their chance of being accepted for a job was lowered because of one or more of these factors.
Forty per cent of respondents say that they are likely to be promoted if they have a similar socio-economic background to the organisation’s management, and half believe that their leaders have a bias towards those who look, think or act like them, according to Hays.
Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand, said that the findings suggest that perceptions of unfair barriers to career progression persist in Australian workplaces.
“Most organisations would be quick to refute any suggestion that their employees’ progression is limited due to gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability or socio-economic background. However, they should be aware that these perceptions do exist amongst the wider employee population,” Mr Deligiannis said.
“Employees should feel confident to express this sentiment, and there should be a process in place for any feedback to be responded to and acted upon where appropriate.”
Mr Deligiannis noted several strategies that employers can implement to better promote diversity and inclusion in their workplace.
“It starts with sourcing talent from the widest possible pool, acting to mitigate bias throughout the talent selection process by involving a range of diverse stakeholders when reviewing and selecting CVs, and includes diversifying your interview panel,” he said.
“Data should be used to enhance career development programs. For example, demographic diversity data (baseline workforce demographics across factors such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) can highlight if there is an issue with the promotion of employees from traditionally underrepresented groups.
“Organisations should also clearly communicate their commitment to offering career progression opportunities to all, and have clearly defined progression pathways and transparent objectives. This ensures all staff are aware that their personal career progression is tied to specific aspects of their performance, which will only be assessed on merit.
“Training at managerial level is important too and should prioritise bias mitigation.”