Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

A survey by the Diversity Council in Australia showed that only 25 per cent of diversity programs often or always work. Are Australian companies, government organisations and charities wasting millions of dollars on diversity and inclusion programs that are either never or rarely effective?

Only 3 per cent of chief executives and 5.1 per cent of overall senior executives have a non-European or Indigenous background, according to a 2018 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, University of Sydney, Asia Society Australia and Committee for Sydney.

A recent survey by BOSS magazine found that just 7 per cent of Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) 100 CEOs were women, barely changed over the past five years.

Diversity Council chief executive Lisa Annese said it was disappointing and a waste of resources and effort that companies, government and not-for-profit agencies were not applying a more rigorous approach to their diversity programs. Ms Annese argued that danger from the failure of inclusion programs was that organisations would give up.

The Diversity Council said it was crucial that organisations undertake a four-step approach to diversity programs. Business needs must be identified and programs designed appropriately. The vision of the program must be communicated to staff and the schemes properly evaluated. Less than two in five HR professionals said their organisation monitored and evaluated the impact of diversity programs.

Work flexibility as effective retention measure

A 2016 staff survey found that the proportion of employees who said flexibility was encouraged rose to 74 per cent from 50 per cent in 2013. Surveys also show that work flexibility is an effective retention measure.Boston Consulting Group recently found that while 97 per cent of employees said their company had at least one diversity and inclusion policy, only 11 per cent of women, 14 per cent of people from different ethnic backgrounds and 18 per cent of LBGTIQ employees felt they had benefited from the programs. At least 30 per cent said they had experienced discrimination.