Australia: Deep reluctance to discuss racism in workplaces
Individuals in Australia are exposed to racism during their daily working lives, which could negatively impact innovation, profit, market share, and productivity.
In workplaces, words like cultural diversity and exclusion are used, but racism is never discussed. Choosing not to name racism, particularly at work, many Australians remain exposed to it from organizations and individuals in their daily working lives.
Research shows that in the past year, one in two Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people experienced at least one incident of racial harassment or discrimination at work.
Separate research found more than one in three Australians born overseas of non-English speaking backgrounds experienced discrimination in the last year because of their skin color, ethnicity, or religion. This rises to two in five for Australians born in an Asian country, and about one in three Australians are racist against Muslims.
However, Australian businesses are growing more ready than ever to begin having important conversations about race that allow us to identify and respond to racism effectively.
In mid-2020, at the time of the global push for racial justice, large numbers of Diversity Council Australia members began seeking advice on addressing racism in their workplaces.
To do so, guidance on where to start and how to understand racism is necessary.
Importantly, Australia’s historical context was taken into consideration to address the specific ways racism plays out in Australian organizations.
It is worth mentioning that racism has a high personal cost for employees who experience it. For workplaces, racism can impact innovation, profit, market share, and can lead to absenteeism, turnover, and loss of staff morale and productivity.