FAQs

Find answers to commonly asked questions about the Workplace Cultural Diversity Tool here. If you have more questions, feel free to contact us.

Diversity Council Australia refers to 'culture' as "a common set of norms and values shared by a group" and 'cultural diversity' as "the variation between people in terms of ancestry, ethnicity, ethno-religiosity, language, national origin, race, and/or religion." 1

According to Diversity Council Australia, “Cultural diversity means having a mix of people from different cultural backgrounds – it can include differences in cultural/ethnic identity (how we identify ourselves and how others identify us), language, country of birth, religion, heritage/ancestry, national origin, and/or race.” 2

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples occupy a unique position as the First Nations peoples of Australia. Their relationship to Australia is different from that of settlers from culturally and linguistically diverse, or multicultural, backgrounds. We acknowledge this difference and refer to both First Nations communities and culturally diverse communities throughout this tool. We also acknowledge that the use of the term ‘First Nations’ is not without contention. As noted by Jumbunna Institute and Diversity Council Australia in their 2020 report, Gari Yala, many Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people prefer to use the terms ‘Indigenous’, ‘Aboriginal’ and/or ‘Torres Strait Islander’.

We also recognise that these general terms do not accurately reflect the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who represent hundreds of nations, languages, and clan groups with distinct cultural identities. Many Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people prefer to be known by their specific group or clan names, and it is always best to ask a person how they should be referred to. We use the term ‘First Nations’ here to refer to the traditional custodians of country across Australia, for the sake of consistency and brevity, and apologise for any offense this may cause. It has not been our intention to oversimplify the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the many cultural identities they represent. 3

There are many ways to refer to the different cultural and racial and identities that make up Australian society. The Australian Human Rights Commission acknowledges there are different perspectives on how and when these terms should be used, and that individuals are entitled to choose how they themselves are identified. Other terms are important and relevant in a variety of contexts, and where possible, it is best to use the terminology preferred by the staff who represent those communities within your workplace. We believe that ‘culturally and linguistically diverse’ encourages employers to think about the myriad of cultures that make our society so rich and diverse. However, we acknowledge that this terminology is limited and can have a flattening effect, reducing diverse lived experiences under a single term.

In using the term ‘culturally and linguistically diverse’, we do not intend to reduce or typecast the thousands of cultural, religious, language and ethnic identities that exist. We want to recognise and celebrate these differences, and encourage workplaces to do the same.

Australia has always been home to people of many cultures. Many Australian organisations need support to effectively manage the opportunities and challenges that cultural diversity can bring. Research demonstrates that organisations that manage cultural diversity well can expect to receive a host of benefits, including greater employee commitment and team performance, larger market share and better customer and client satisfaction. A summary of this research is available here.

The tool is based on a resource commissioned by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) for a project called Localities Embracing and Accepting Diversity.

The original version was developed by Associate Professor Yin Paradies (Deakin University) and Dr Brigid Trenerry based on research on international best practice in workplace cultural diversity and was piloted with two Victorian local councils, the cities of Whittlesea and Greater Shepparton. The Australian Human Rights Com mission and Diversity Council Australia joined with VicHealth to refine the tool and test it with a wider range of corporate and non-for-profit organisations across Australia. The original version of the tool and supporting research are available here.

This revised version of the tool was developed in 2021, again in partnership with Diversity Council Australia. The content, form and function of the tool were updated to increase usability and user engagement, and to provide organisations with information and resources to engage with current conversations on cultural diversity and anti-racism. The new tool was informed by research and consultations and guided by the expertise of an Expert Advisory Group. See information about the Expert Advisory Group.

The tool is designed to help organisations measure themselves against good practice goals in workplace cultural diversity and anti-racism, effectively manage a culturally diverse workforce, plan their business development and chart their progress over time.

We hope the tool will support Australian employers and employees to think critically about how our ideas of what is ‘acceptable’ and ‘normal’ in the workplace are often imbued with many prejudices. By reflecting on these prejudices and working to overcome them, we create more genuinely inclusive workplaces.

However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to anti-racism or promoting cultural diversity. While the standards in the tool are based on international best practice, they won't meet the needs of every workplace.

Finally, using the tool is just one step in creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. It is designed to help you recognise areas in which your organisation is doing well, and others in which your organisation needs to do better. Your responses to the tool should inform the development of initiatives to improve cultural diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism within the workplace. The Australian Human Rights Commission is available to support your organisation with information and resources on how to continue this journey, including information about tailored support.

No. It's intended to help organisations employ the best person for the job, maximise the benefits of a culturally diverse workforce and address racism and racial discrimination. Some organisations are not aware that they inadvertently discriminate against employees, and potential employees, from different cultural backgrounds. This tool highlights situations where this could occur and suggests some steps to minimise the chances that this will happen.

The tool provides general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Employers should seek their own legal advice as required.

No. The tool is intended for large, medium and small employers from the private, non-government and public sectors. Some of the standards may be more relevant to larger organisations, although every employer should be able to find something in the tool that is relevant to their needs.

Nothing. Use of the tool is free, as is the confidential report tailored to your organisation that is generated upon completion of the tool.

The tool itself is designed to be completed by staff members with oversight and/or awareness of organisational planning, policies, recruitment and retention processes such as a senior manager, human resources manager or diversity officer. However, we recommend that these users create a multi-level team to support the completion of the tool, ensuring that diverse perspectives, in particular those of First Nations people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, are incorporated.

Many of the resources available on the Workplace Cultural Diversity Tool Website are designed to increase the cross-cultural competency and anti-racism literacy of all employees. We hope that these resources will support employees of all levels to reflect on their own role in practising active anti-racism.

We also recommend that regular employee surveys accompany use of the tool. This will allow you to measure your results in the tool with how employees view cultural diversity and anti-racism in your organisation. Resources such as the Diversity Council of Australia’s Inclusion at Work Index allow organisations to measure diversity in their workplace against industry benchmarks.

It can be expected to take about an hour to complete, however this depends on the size and complexity of your organisation.

We are committed to ensuring the security and confidentiality of this resource. Although a copy of the data you submit to the tool will be retained by the Commission’s server, the information you provide regarding your workplace’s relationship to cultural diversity and anti-racism will not be considered or used by the Commission. The data is retained to allow you to re-use the tool and to enable the Commission to assist you in case of any problems you encounter when using the tool. Access to the tool is via a secure login and all data transmission will be encrypted.

The report provides an assessment of how your organisation measures up to best practice across the key competency areas. Some will table the report at board meetings or meetings with the CEO and senior managers.

Using the tool is just one step in creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. It is designed to help you recognise areas in which your organisation is doing well, and others in which your organisation needs to do better. Your responses to the tool should inform the development of initiatives to improve cultural diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism within the workplace. The Australian Human Rights Commission is available to support your organisation with information and resources on how to continue this journey, including information about tailored support.

You will receive links to some useful resources on workplace cultural diversity upon completion of the tool.

There are many training opportunities to support your organisation to deepen your commitment to anti-racism and the promotion of cultural diversity. We hope that this tool will form just a small part of that journey. Some agencies provide training on workplace cultural diversity on a fee-for-service basis and can provide tailored support depending on your needs. Other training is directed towards working effectively with employees from specific communities. A list of some of these organisations is provided in the resources section. The Australian Human Rights Commission is available to support your organisation with information and resources on how to continue this journey, including information about tailored support.

Yes, we encourage it – this will enable your organisation to measure your progress towards best practice over time. We recommend your organisation repeat the tool at least once a year.

When you log back in to the tool, you can choose to continue where you left off or start a new assessment. If you choose to continue where you left off, you will be able to access your previous responses and generate a copy of your organisation’s report, then you can start the tool again. We recommend that you save your username and password in case you or a colleague wish to log in, access your previous results and complete the tool again in future.

For more information or to ask questions about the tool please contact the campaign team here.

Once you complete the tool you will have the opportunity to provide feedback and submit your own good practice example/s for inclusion in the tool.

We welcome your input as we aim to continuously improve the tool to meet the needs of employers and their employees.

  1. Jane O’Leary and Dimitria Groutsis, ‘Cultural Diversity Definition’, Diversity Council Australia (Web Page, 26 June 2020): https://www.dca.org.au/topics/culture-faith/key-definitions-and-state-play 
  2. Jane O’Leary and Dimitria Groutsis, ‘Cultural Diversity Definition’, Diversity Council Australia (Web Page, 26 June 2020): https://www.dca.org.au/topics/culture-faith/key-definitions-and-state-play
  3. Diversity Council Australia and Jumbunna Institute, Gari Yala (Speak the Truth): Centring the Work Experiences of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians (Report, Diversity Council Australian and Jumbunna Institute, 2020): https://www.dca.org.au/sites/default/files/dca_synopsisreport_web_0.pdf