Tabi on racial matters: Don’t ignore your culturally diverse employees

| May 26, 2022

The Australia’s 2022 Federal election has proven again that diversity, equity and inclusion are important to everyday people.

Don’t parachute people into leadership positions with good intentions either as seen in the Australia’s 2022 Federal election.

More than ever before people are willing to elect representatives who understand the values and needs of their community. No more are people willing to elect governments who simply talk the talk to buy votes, yet don’t understand the history of racism or how it affects the racialised.

A case in point

The incumbent Member for the electorate of Fowler in Sydney’s South-West, was retiring and not contesting the election. In a normally safe Labour seat, the Labour Party ignored the incumbent Members recommendation to install a local candidate for the upcoming election, preferring to parachute a candidate from outside the electorate.

Whilst this candidate is highly experienced and a respected member of Parliament, the voters did not agree that she could effectively represent their needs. This resulted in a massive swing away from the Labour Party and the election of a locally based independent member with a migrant background.

The Electorate of Fowler is one of Australia’s most multicultural communities with a very high percentage of migrants and first-generation Australians. As at the Australian 2016 Census the breakdown of country of birth was:

Country of birth of father &/or mother Fowler New South Wales Australia
Both parents born overseas 76.1 % 37.0 % 34.4 %
Father born overseas 3.3% 6.1% 6.4%
Mother born overseas 2.4% 4.3% 4.7%
Both parents born in Australia 11.0% 45.4% 47.3%


The voices of the marginalised are getting louder, the table above shows that the electorate of Fowler is a multicultural community who wish to be represented by a local member who is an integral part of their community and feels the pain they feel.

As the Australian population becomes less white, so too, should the elected leaders of this beautiful country, and we are rapidly seeing this change.

Diverse teams that are also Inclusive, are said to deliver exceptional outcomes. With a more diverse parliament, perhaps we will see delivery of more exceptional outcomes.

Underestimating or dismissing the power of diversity, equity and inclusion, as Labour did in the electorate of Fowler can have significant consequences. The same goes for businesses.

Make diversity, equity and inclusion your business goal, not just by saying the words in a policy or employing a diverse workforce. Ask yourself these challenging questions:

  • Who represents your diversity at the top of your organisation?
  • Is your organisation unbalanced with diversity between the top and bottom of your organisational chart?
  • Are you making the same mistake Labour made by having a room full of experienced well educated white leaders make decisions on behalf of a multicultural workforce or customer base?
  • Are you truly willing to accept that someone from a migrant background can be a valued member of your leadership team?

Be warned, just like the community members in Fowler, your multicultural employees and customers are watching and analysing the decisions you make around building a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.

So why do organisations get inclusion so wrong?

Traditionally it is business as usual, and businesses are often unsure how to cultivate inclusion. But just like financial goals, inclusion goals need to be articulated for the why, what and when across your organisation for your inclusion vision to be realised.

There is another blind spot. Often organisations are not aware of the problems faced by those from diverse backgrounds. Due to this, organisations fail to hear the differences, and what that means for their business. In some cases, there’s a lack of respect that says we can’t co-exist because of our differences, this further alienates staff and the opportunity to work to contribute to the organisation’s goals.

Make Inclusion the Goal

You can add all the rainbow colours or employ as many coloured people as you like, but if true Inclusion is not present, your organisation will not be able to enjoy the benefits that diversity, equity and inclusion brings.

We know inclusion is the key ingredient to innovation

Inclusion is diversity in action. It’s about providing environments where Everyone can feel Belonging. It’s about making sure that your diverse teams can work seamlessly together, and this can happen when your organisation decides to make Inclusion a part of its DNA.

When your organisation cultivates Inclusion, employees will feel a sense of belonging.

Studies tell us, Employers who invest in, and create a culture that enshrines Inclusion are more productive, creative, innovative, and financially successful. You can check out case studies of organisations doing this well in my recent Book, Inclusive Teams and Workplaces: Everyone Wins!!.

Three ways to achieve inclusion

Get to Root Causes – you can’t solve Inclusion problems if you can’t name the elephant in the room. To develop a clear understanding of what Inclusion is, is to understand the opposite of Inclusion, which is Exclusion. Exclusion is characterised by racism. When you can identify the problem, you can then make the commitment to see the good, the bad and the ugly of what Exclusion is doing.

Be equipped with the right tools – allow your understanding to help you solve all Exclusion problems. This can be done through one or combination of the list below.

    • Collect Data
    • Review Hiring and Recruitment practices
    • Employee Retention Rate
  • Incorporate Inclusion – with two other critical elements of achieving inclusion the following elements must be considered incorporating Inclusion.
  • Assess – A 360-degree assessment of your organisation
  • Announce – Make your commitment about Inclusion known to your all stakeholders, managers, and your employee to create a groundswell of support.
  • Act – do what you say and Walk the Talk

Transform your Business

Don’t parachute people into leadership positions with good intentions, respect your workforce and your customers, they are smart people who hold the key to your success.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, when treated as business goals, can transform your organisation. Have your leaders act, by being intentional to dismantle exclusionary practices, and open opportunities that fuel greater collaboration across teams and focused and engaged participation in company goals.