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Today is Harmony Day

March 21, 2016


Did you know that one in four Australians were born overseas? This means Australia’s cultural diversity in the workplace is rapidly growing. Harmony day celebrates just that; Australia’s cultural diversity. It promotes inclusiveness, respect for all and a sense that everyone belongs. Research has shown that businesses benefit from cultural diversity through greater employee commitment and team performance, larger market share as well as better customer and client satisfaction.

So are you promoting the values of Harmony Day in your own workplace?

As an employer, you are responsible for the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees while they are at work. As part of this obligation, it is up to you to promote and support cultural differences in the workplace. So how do you do this?

In supporting the cultural needs of your workers you may need to take the following into account:-

  • Dress – do your employees need to wear a particular cultural dress? Do they feel comfortable requesting your permission to wear this attire to work? Is it a safety hazard if they wear this to work – if yes, have you explained that to them?
  • Religious practices – Do your employees need certain times off during the day to pray or perform a specific ritual? Do they feel comfortable in requesting your permission to do so?
  • Customs – Do your employees need somewhere to prepare their food in a particular way as required by their religion?
  • Social values – Do your employees have particular social values, view on work ethic etc.?
  • Family obligations – Do any of your employees have high family responsibilities as a result of their cultural differences? Do these family responsibilities conflict with work? Are your flexible in assisting your employees to manage those responsibilities?
  • Non-verbal behaviour – Eye contact, handshakes and other physical contact means different things to different cultures. Are you aware of your employees and their cultural differences in order to ensure a workplace free from possible conflict/accidental insults?

So what does this all mean for you?

No it doesn’t mean you have to take up/participate in your employees’ culture or religion; but it does mean that you need to be aware of the cultural diversity within your workplace.

Take home points this Harmony Day:

  1. Train – train staff on the important of cultural diversity and cultural differences
  2. Utilise – utilise your staff members’ cultural skills
  3. Promote – promote cultural celebrations
  4. Flexible – be flexible in accommodating your employees’ cultural or religious requirements
  5. Don’t discriminate – do not discriminate against workers because of yours or their cultural background

The central message for Harmony Day is “everyone belongs.” Try instill that into your own workplace.

For more information on promoting and supporting cultural diversity within your workplace, clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.