Last week I attended an event hosted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and Telstra as a guest panelist. At the event they released a suite of free online resources to help employers embrace diversity and prevent discrimination in the workplace called the ‘Good practice, discount good business’ resources.
It was a very good event where we discussed ways and means for communication with small business people and also discussed what we at COSBOA see as impediments to a fair and inclusive workplace. This included issues around FBT on childacre and gym membership as well as the impact of paid parental leave processes on our workload and the importance of including home based business people and independent contractors in the health agenda.
At the event the Australian Human Rights Commission President Professor Gillian Triggs said it was the first major initiative under the Commission’s new priority area of working with business on human rights.
“We have made a commitment to work more closely with employers and the private sector around human rights issues within the workplace, view ” Professor Triggs said.
“We are in a unique position to understand the relationship between business and human rights through our complaint handling process.
“It is through the 20,000 enquiries and around 2,200 complaints that we receive each year under five pieces of legislation that we are able to observe the extent to which businesses are pivotal to achieving practical human rights outcomes in Australia.”
The Good practice, good business resources is designed to provide practical advice on a range of issues including recruitment and retention of older workers, gender equality, sexual harassment, race discrimination, employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, employment of people with disabilities, domestic and family violence, mental illness and supporting carers in the workplace.
The resources are available for free on the Commission’s new employers’ hub – a ‘one-stop-shop’ for Australian businesses.
Professor Triggs said research conducted in Australia and overseas indicates that there is a strong business case for promoting diversity in the workplace.
“The evidence tells us that a diverse workforce is one that is creative, innovative and leads to improved responsiveness and performance,” Professor Triggs said.
“From a risk management perspective, it is also essential that Australian businesses understand their legal obligations in relation to discrimination in the workplace.”
Telstra Business Group Managing Director Will Irving said the Good practice, good business initiative offers value for all businesses regardless of their size.
“Diversity and eliminating discrimination should be of importance to every employer, whether you have a workforce of 35,000 employees, 350 or a staff of three,” Mr Irving said.
Professor Triggs also announced the launch of the Commission’s Business and Human Rights Network, a voluntary informal forum for information exchange and discussion on human rights and business.
“The network will support members to promote diversity and prevent workplace discrimination, and embrace the human rights challenges and opportunities faced by employers,” Professor Triggs said.
For more information or to access the free resources visit www.humanrights.gov.au/employers