Diversity in Australia: Have we failed or are we on the right track?
What does the word “diversity” mean?
Diversity is defined as:
- “The inclusion of people of different races cultures, etc. in a group or organization.” - Merriam-Webster Dictionary
- “The practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.”- Oxford Languages
- “The inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.” - com
- “The fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people.” - Cambridge Dictionary
There’s no cookie cutter approach to diversity. It comes in all shapes and sizes – diversity of thought, diversity of opinion, diversity of race, diversity of experience, diversity of preference.
‘Diversity and inclusion’ has become a buzz term, especially as businesses seek to stay on the “right” side of social issues. In some cases, we see a genuine push for diversity in many industries. In other cases, businesses treat the cause for diversity as a tick-a-box exercise to protect their bottom line.
It’s clear that everyone has an opinion on what diversity means and what it should look like. Diversity is subjective. From person to person, its meaning is influenced by our perspective of the world, shaped by experience.
So, what does diversity mean to you?
Representation of all
For me, diversity is about representation. Representation of various ethnicities, ages, genders, cultures, mindsets, beliefs, appearances, and preferences. As a consumer, I expect the businesses I receive products and services from to look like the communities they serve. This goes beyond advertising and marketing, to providing an offering that meets the varying needs of groups of people.
Within Australia, though we’re known as a multicultural nation – with one in four of us born overseas[i] – diverse representation is lacking in many industries, especially retail, health and beauty. In some ways, this poor diversity of race feeds systemic racism, as 18% of Australians surveyed by the Australian Human Rights Commission have experienced discrimination because of skin colour, ethnicity, or religious beliefs[ii].
The question is – is Australia addressing diversity in the right way?
Are we doing it right?
Diversity, particularly in workplaces, doesn’t just happen without a conscious effort. Even with the right policies and practices in place, we as humans fall victim to our unconscious biases (underlying attitudes and stereotypes).
When we’re shown businesses that are “doing diversity right” in Australia, we see a focus on gender, sexual orientation and disability. Though the inclusion and equality offered to these groups is valid, there’s a missing dimension. Where’s the diversity of race?
As much as I get excited when I see someone who looks like me in promotional campaigns for Australian businesses, that’s not enough. I expect more.
We expect more.
We expect to see more people of colour on company boards, in the media and in political leadership positions. If we don’t see it, how can we aspire to it?
Australia, we can “do” diversity better. As racial discrimination is becoming part of the conversation, let’s take it a step further. Let’s widen our vision when it comes to diversity and recognise people of all skin colours.
Diversity to the core
At SHADIE BY EA, we acknowledge that we also have a role to play.
That’s why diversity is at the core of what we do. Our soon to be released product range seeks to cater to women of all shades and body types. We serve those who have been overlooked and failed by the limited concept of diversity in Australia.
For more about our products, sign up to the email list to receive updates directly to your inbox. We hope you’re as excited as we are!
[i] Australian Human Rights Commission, ‘Face the facts: Cultural Diversity’, https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/education/face-facts-cultural-diversity (2014).
[ii] As above.