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Business Models on Diversity Management

Gary Hardgrave MP

Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs , Australia

Media Release 22 May 2002

Minister Launches Business Models on Diversity Management

Significant economic advantages could be reaped by businesses with appropriate diversity management strategies, the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Gary Hardgrave, said today.

Groundbreaking research by the Australian Centre for International Business (ACIB) on diversity management shows there can be important bottom-line results for businesses adopting diversity strategies.

The research shows companies can improve business competitiveness by utilising their employees' knowledge of business networks and experience in overseas business practices, as well as their linguistic and cultural skills.

It also helps companies better understand the particular needs and consumer preferences of groups within the domestic market.

"The message is simple - in the global economy, Australia's workforce is yielding economic and social dividends to businesses that manage diversity," Mr Hardgrave said.

According to ACIB, the link between managing diversity and building international business capabilities is strong.

Operating in the international arena means businesses will face different ideologies, languages, institutions, customs, beliefs, social systems and business practices.

Australian business must interact with people from a variety of cultural, economic, political and social backgrounds. These factors all contribute to the complexity of operating in an international business environment.

Mr Hardgrave said the launch of the Business Models and Toolkits was the result of a partnership between ACIB and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs under the Government's New Agenda for Multicultural Australia commitment.

"The New Agenda commits the Government to actively seek opportunities to work in partnership with the private sector and academics to maximise the economic and social benefits of Australia's diversity," Mr Hardgrave said.

"The Government is meeting this commitment through its Productive Diversity Program."

The Department's Partnership Program was established in 1998 and since then has been involved in partnerships between Government, business and educators.

"The ACIB Business Models and Toolkits have made an important contribution to the growing understanding of the economic benefits for business when they effectively manage their diverse employees and customer base," Mr Hardgrave said.

The Business Models developed by ACIB will assist human resource managers develop strong arguments for diversity management to their CEOs, Board members and line/business managers.

The Business Toolkits have been designed to facilitate implementation of the commitment to diversity management.

Research by ACIB suggests that diversity management contributes significantly to the bottom line. The five main ways diversity management produces the diversity dividend are:

- Improving the efficiency of HRM functions

- Fostering superior decision-making, problem-solving, creativity, and innovation; key factors in the creation of knowledge firms

- Developing cross-cultural capabilities that facilitate operations in culturally complex environments at home and abroad

- Implementing new product/service developments and new sales/marketing strategies for diverse customer bases

Case studies from Telstra, Holden, Hewlett Packard, Ford, Westpac, IBM, AMP, Bovis Lend Lease, National Australia Bank, Microsoft Australia illustrate some of the economic dirvers for why diversity management is important for business, including:

- Bottom-line improvement

- International links and market opportunity

- Innovation

- Addressing labour market needs through migration

- Increasing opportunity and

- Developing human capital


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