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Organisations can increase their performance by focusing on diversity and inclusion says Deloitte


27 November 2012: Employees who think their organisation is committed to, and supportive of, diversity and who feel highly included are 80% more likely to believe they work in a high performing organisation than one with low diversity and low inclusion, according to Juliet Bourke, Deloitte Consulting partner.

This finding reflects research conducted by Deloitte and the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission, Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? A new recipe to improve business performance, a survey of 1550 employees in three major Australian workplaces.

“Recently Australian organisations have given a lot of attention to diversity.  That’s great – but this research shows it’s only half the story. If organisations want to lift levels of innovation, collaboration or customer services, the consistent view of 1,550 employees is that diversity and inclusion is needed,” said Ms Bourke.

“Australia is sitting on a huge opportunity to be more productive and more efficient. We could increase customer satisfaction by 31% and innovation by 81%.  It’s not just about perception; we found that employees who feel included are more likely to turn up to work, and to do their best work. In one organisation we found that if they were to lift levels of inclusion by 10% then they could reduce absenteeism by one day for every employee each year,” said Ms Bourke.  

Acting Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner Karen Toohey said the report contributed to an important conversation about workplace health, both for individuals and business as a whole.

“Being inclusive and providing flexible working arrangements is not only the law, it's good for business and good for employees. This report should encourage businesses to invest in diversity to optimise the benefits,” added Ms Toohey.

The research also examined how the behaviours of senior leaders and managers influence employees’ perceptions about whether an organisation is authentically committed to, values and supports diversity, and whether they feel included. The overall size of these effects are reflected in the table below, with a large effect size being over .8, a moderate effect being over .5, and a small effect being .2.

Table 1: Employee’s perception of diversity influences their feelings of inclusion.  

Feelings of inclusion Perceptions of commitment to, and support, for diversity
Merit Policy (.629) Diversity strategy (.778)
Senior leaders behaviours (.5) Senior leaders behaviours (.5)
Managers behaviours (.55) Managers behaviours (.5)
Work/life balance (.282) Work/life balance (.5)

 Source: Deloitte and Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission

The above table demonstrates that employees’ feelings of inclusion, as well as their perception of organisational commitment to diversity, are driven by their tangible day-to-day experiences of work/life balance.  This signals the significant role played by work/life balance as a driver of diversity and inclusion perceptions.

How to improve implementation through consistency, transparency and accountability

  1. Hold managers and members of Senior Leadership accountable for their actions
  2. Ensure that managers (all the way from the Senior Leadership Team to the Team Leaders) are fair in their assessment of subordinates’ performance
  3. Train managers not to recruit people who are similar to themselves but to be more open minded.  Apply the same to promotions.
  4. Improve fairness in promotions and encourage different viewpoints
  5. Require more transparency in the selection process.

NB: See our media releases and research at

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Juliet Bourke
Job Title:
Partner, Deloitte Consulting
Tel: + 61 2 9322 7379
Jane Kneebone
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Director, Corporate Affairs & Communications
Tel: +61 3 9671 7389, Mobile: +61 416 148 845
Anna Craig
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
Job Title:
Senior Media Adviser
Mobile: 0459 114 657, Tel: + 61 3 9032 3482

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