Mapping Australia’s diversity

Over half (58%) of Australian employees want to see more diversity in the workplace, according to a poll of both employers and employees by recruiting experts Hays.

The recruiter surveyed 239 employers and 348 candidates to map diversity in Australian workplaces and found:



·         66% of employees say their organisation is gender diverse;

·         48% are not satisfied with the career path available to women at their organisation;

·         53% say there is not a balance of male and female representation at the senior executive level;

·         49% of employers say women are equally represented in leadership positions;

·         69% say a clear maternity leave policy is available.



·         69% of employees say their organisation has a workforce of various ages; 

·         But 43% say their organisation does not value mature-age workers;

·         Just 43% of employers have plans in place to retain mature-aged staff.



·         66% of employees say their organisation has a workforce of various cultural backgrounds;

·         And 66% of employers are committed to recruiting a multi-cultural workforce;

·         49% of employees said immigrants face discrimination when it comes to accessing or gaining employment in Australia.



·         30% of employees say their organisation has a workforce that includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders;

·         41% of employers are committed to recruiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.



·         26% of employees say their organisation’s workforce includes people with a disability. 


“Many organisations strive for a diverse workforce, but when you look at the current situation in Australia we see that reality falls short of these lofty ambitions,” says Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand.


“One problem is that when people think of diversity, they often focus on gender diversity alone. But a truly diverse workforce is one inclusive of people of various genders, ages, cultural backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people with physical and mental disabilities.


“In this context, few organisations in Australia can claim to truly have a diverse workforce. Many may meet the diversity criteria for one area, such as age, but fall short when it comes to another, such as gender representation,” he said.


“At Hays, we are aware of our role in helping organisations embed their diversity approach in their hiring processes, and sometimes this involves educating hiring managers.”


Nick notes that there are diversity challenges unique to each target group. “When it comes to gender most organisations in Australia have invested time and effort into creating a diverse workforce, but have failed to achieve their desired outcome,” he says. “This is despite Australia’s population consisting of slightly more women than men and more dual-income families than ever.


“And in terms of age, discrimination is one of the biggest issues on the employment landscape but few employers want to admit to it. Yet older workers find it increasingly difficult to be hired by younger bosses, or are often the first to be laid off in staff retrenchments.


“We are still seeing a significant gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment, and a lot of work needs to be done to close that gap. And as for disability employment in corporate Australia, the statistics are shameful.


“Even when it comes to creating a truly multicultural workforce Australia still has some way to go. Given our multicultural roots, many of the Australian-born children of immigrants have moved into professional, technical and managerial jobs. But skilled migrants still face resistance from some hiring managers, as do refugees,” said Nick.


As News Ltd’s Rupert Murdoch recently said in praise of former refugee, now billionaire Westfield boss Frank Lowy: “(He) came here with a single suitcase. His only real assets were his wit and his willingness to work hard.  It turns out that these are the assets that matter most”.[i]


This is a sentiment we should all remember when it comes to diversity in Australian workplaces.


Finally, in terms of gender diversity Nick has this to say: “At Hays, as a business we are committed to driving a meritocratic, high performance culture where everyone is given equal opportunity to progress based on proven performance against set criteria. Through our industry leading training and development programs, we develop the leadership skills and expertise of our female workforce. This approach has led to strong business results and excellent gender equality outcomes.


“Our gender equality strategy at Hays is to continue to develop and improve our meritocratic and high performance culture which drives business and people results”.


For more, please see Hays’ white paper ‘The Balancing Act: Creating A Diverse Workforce’ based on a survey of 239 employers and 348 candidates on Australian workplaces.

[i] Burgess, R, Business Spectator, ‘Murdoch is right: we need more refugees’,