How diversity and inclusion support a healthy workplace

Organisations enjoy multiple benefits for being diverse and inclusive, and research has shown this includes growing and maintaining the positive wellbeing and mental health of their workforce.

A clear advantage of creating an environment open and accepting of diversity is that employees thrive with a greater sense of safety and belonging.

As our workplaces continue to adapt to dramatic changes required due to COVID-19, organisations are evaluating the mental health and wellbeing support they provide their employees, and how they can improve these services.

Mental health and disability

Anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health conditions can sometimes be recognised disabilities which are incredibly common throughout workplaces, even when they are not always seen.

Globally the past 12 months has seen companies and their employees rely on employee assistance program providers to deliver support and resources around mental health and wellbeing, more than ever before.

Experts agree that ensuring disability is part of diversity and inclusivity strategies and conversations is essential.

Increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a major step employers and businesses can take to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

A team approach

Samantha Breust, General Manager of Konekt Workcare, said collaboration between an organisation’s health and safety and human resources teams were key to understanding the role of diversity and inclusion and seeing the benefits across the workforce.

“When a workforce enables greater diversity and inclusion it helps create a culture where people can speak up about risks, wellbeing and health and safety issues.

“This is important in creating an environment where people can reach their potential – which is a vital part of employee mental health and wellbeing.”

Fiona Kalaf, CEO of Employable Me, said diverse and inclusive workplaces regularly saw the positive effect on members of their workforce.

“There are multiple benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace and employers and business leaders shouldn’t ignore the incredibly positive impact it can have on the health and wellbeing of their team.

“Taking disability diversity as one example, a recent study by APM recently showed more than 90 per cent of employers reported significant benefits.

“These included a more positive workplace culture and improved morale amongst their team.

“Many also highlighted the improved resilience of team members when coping with challenges both at work and at home.”

Five benefits a diverse and inclusive workplace has for employees:

  • Greater sense of safety and belonging
  • Stronger resilience and ability to adapt to change
  • More open to discuss and manage mental health issues
  • Improved conflict resolution and problem-solving skills
  • Increased empathy and understanding of customer needs

Five benefits a diverse and inclusive workplace has for businesses:

What leaders can do

There are many ways to improve diversity and inclusion of your workplace. Here are some simple ways to get started:

  1. Check how diverse and inclusive your organisation is. Download APM’s Disability Diverse and Inclusion Checklist here.
  2. Learn more about diversity and inclusion across Australian businesses. APM’s Disability Diversity and Inclusivity Index provides a score for businesses to measure and includes research and insights on why it matters. Download it here.
  3. Create a business case for greater diversity and inclusion. See Heads Up’s six tips for improving inclusion in your workplace here.
  4. Engage a Mental Health and Wellbeing Program provider to guide your organisation on fostering diverse and inclusive cultures. See Assure Programs’ tip sheet here.
  5. Partner with an organisation to find diverse job candidates for your vacancies. Register with Employable Me here.