What would happen if you scratched the surface of your diversity initiatives?

Would there be substance, or would it reveal lip service?

One of the things I struggle with when beginning to write about diversity, is that most of the information you find, reduces it to metrics that include programmes, percentages and numbers.

These things are important, but how do we measure how people feel about their inclusion in every aspect of the job? How do they feel about treatment they receive from managers and colleagues.

A 2023 report from Diversityworks NZ reports worrying numbers about harassment and bullying. According to the report, 24.2% of employees experience bullying, 35.8% of women reported sexual harassment and higher frequencies of sexual harassment than men, and 53.6% of female managers reported the highest levels of sexual harassment. This report is the tip of the iceberg, what are the figures for people of colour, transgender, non-binary and neurodiverse people – or anyone who is considered to be different?

Bullying and sexual harassment  is one measure that tells us not all is well in the New Zealand workplace.

We need to look at our underlying attitudes in order to create a shift from tolerance of , to genuine acceptance and celebration of all the ways people are different from ourselves.

Talking about difference as a generic term is problematic – different than what? Normal? What is normal? We can start by looking at the ways people are different from us as individuals and learn and grow from that.

I worry for the businesses that are run by some of the people I see on linkedin (for example) who feel it is OK to express anti-māori views and label anyone who challenges them on those views as “woke”. How are the workforces they are responsible for feeling about their jobs?

Initiatives and measures are important, but more so, are the actions we take on an everyday basis, to explore, learn, accept and celebrate the things that make us different. Learning another culture, chatting to someone about the barriers they face, truly listening to descriptions of, and doing something about, behaviour that is unacceptable. Call people out for racist, sexist, homophobic language and behaviour, ensure the workplace is safe for neurodiverse or LGBTQ+ people.

Recognise that there will be mis-steps along the way and use them to learn more. We all have biases, we all have gaps in our knowledge; by creating safe places to talk about things, we make it a better workplace for everyone.

Scratch the surface in your organisation – look beyond the measures and find out how people really feel about equity and inclusion at work.