When it comes to Indigenous representation, the NRL stands out in front. In 2016, 12 per cent of players and 4 per cent of staff identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The NRL is also aiming for 5 per cent of staff to be Indigenous by 2017, along with 15 per cent of players.
While football clubs are leading the way, they are not alone. Big names in Australia’s private sector – Rio Tinto, Chevron and AGL to name are few – are starting to play a vital role in closing the gap for Indigenous health, wealth and wellbeing.
Of course, hiring and training Indigenous workers also has serious advantages for employers.
Greater diversity in thinking and work practices are just two benefits that have been heavily researched and documented. What’s more, Indigenous workers can reflect a particular customer base, gain better access to business opportunities with Indigenous organisations, and open doorways for Indigenous training pathways.
There are also cost advantages in recruiting locally, which is particularly relevant for mining and resources companies, as well as for production facilities in regional areas.
However, boosting the profile of Indigenous workers requires solid strategy, which Labour Solutions Australia Indigenous Affairs Officer Kathy Badrick breaks down into four key points:
1. Expand the range of Indigenous employment opportunities
“The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous education and training levels is still significant, and it’s one of the key contributing factors to Indigenous disadvantage. Industry needs to partner with training providers to increase the number of Indigenous students studying in the fields where jobs are. For those already in the workforce, promoting the benefits of education, training and good work practice helps Indigenous workers continue with sustainable employment.”
2. Invest in developing the capability of Indigenous candidates
“There are a lot of great Indigenous jobseekers out there, but because they are in regional or remote areas, or because they have experienced systemic educational disadvantage, many miss out in conventional screening processes. Coaching and mentoring programs are an essential part of boosting Indigenous participation. These can be delivered through local community programs, or through nationally accredited providers.”
3. Encourage the representation of Indigenous employees in senior roles
“There is a huge glass ceiling for Indigenous people, as there is for all minorities. This means businesses need to evaluate ways to progress good Indigenous employees through the workforce. This could come through scholarships and leadership programs, or through mentorship.”
4. Improve awareness of Indigenous culture in the workplace
“Unfortunately, many Indigenous workers still face racism and discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. Consider appointing an Indigenous Affairs Officer, or a Diversity Advisor, to engage with clients, business partners and staff to create a positive environment for all workers.”
Regardless of the size of your organisation, developing a specific Indigenous employment strategy is a must for smart employers in 2016. It doesn’t need to be a burdensome task. Labour Solutions Australia understands the importance of setting targets and initiatives to attract and retain this underutilised section of the Australian workforce. Get in touch with Kathy to ensure your business isn’t left behind.