Your cart is empty.

Creating a Racially Inclusive Workplace

This factsheet aims to provide information on what a racially inclusive workplace looks like. If you are an employer, you have a legal obligation to take all reasonable steps to prevent race discrimination in the workplace. Failure to do so means you may be vicariously liable and legally responsible for the discriminatory actions of your employees or agents.[1]

A 2021-2022 survey conducted by Diversity Council of Australia showed that 43% of racially marginalised non-white workers felt that racism in their workplace was common compared to just 18% of white workers. Additionally, one in two Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander workers reported that they experienced discrimination or harassment in the last 12 months, which is twice as much as what was reported by non-Indigenous workers.[2]

A 2020 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission states that Aboriginal women and girls in particular often feel isolated, intimidated and unsupported as a result of being a small minority within their workplace.[3]

With these experiences and reports in mind, this factsheet provides examples of reasonable steps that employers and businesses can take to create a welcoming, supportive and safe workplace for all workers, regardless of race.


What is race discrimination?

Race discrimination is when someone is treated negatively or less favourably because of their:

  • Race;
  • Colour;
  • Nationality (past or present);
  • Country of origin; or
  • Ancestry.[4]

Under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (‘RDA’) and the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA) (‘EOA’), it is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their race.[5] This includes discrimination against job applicants, employees, agents, independent contractors and contract workers.[6]


For more information and examples of race discrimination, please see our ‘Race Discrimination and the Workplace’ factsheet.


What can I do as an employer?

As an employer, you have the power to actively shape the environment of your workplace and to create a standard that does more than just the bare minimum.

Below are three practical suggestions with steps to help you create a racially inclusive workplace.


1. Create strong anti-discrimination policies

Enshrine a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy

  • Develop and enforce a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy that explicitly includes race discrimination and states that it is unlawful.
  • Clearly communicate to all workers that there is zero tolerance for racist jokes, comments and behaviour
  • The policy should include a complaints process and outline how complaints will be dealt with regard to reporting, investigation, confidentiality, timeframes and potential outcomes

Ensure equitable recruitment and employment

  • Review job descriptions and recruitment, promotion and termination policies to ensure they are fair, transparent and unbiased
  • Promote the employment and career advancement of racially diverse peoples in the workplace, including in senior decision-making positions with authority to create change

Review and amend existing policies

  • Review existing policies to ensure they do not indirectly discriminate against racially diverse peoples and amend accordingly
    • g. Leave flexibility around different religious holidays other than Christmas and Easter


2. Provide expert training and resources

  • Provide mandatory diversity and/or cultural awareness training to educate staff on racially and culturally sensitive issues to foster understanding and empathy between groups
  • Provide implicit/unconscious bias training to all staff, particularly managers, decision-makers and recruiters
  • Provide access to employee assistance programs or counselling services for staff who have reported discrimination


3. Foster an accepting and safe workplace culture

  • Appropriately recognise and respect different racial and cultural backgrounds
  • Use inclusive language in all internal and external communications, including policies, emails, announcements and documents
  • Encourage the formation of employee resource groups or networks for racially diverse individuals
  • Promote allyship work from non-racially diverse individuals
  • Support and participate in community events, celebrations and diversity initiatives


Overall, it will be important to take a human-centred approach when taking the above steps. Consult with staff, particularly racially diverse workers, and seek feedback about how inclusive the workplace is and how it can be improved.

Remember that positive, safe and inclusive workplaces need to be maintained – it is an ongoing process. Regularly check in with staff, continue to provide training and encourage empathy and respect amongst workers.


If you are an employer and would like further resources and/or training, get in touch with our Training staff by completing an enquiry form here:


[1] RDA s 18A, EOA s 91

[2] Diversity Council Australia, Inclusion@Work Index 2021-2022: Mapping the State of Inclusion in the Australian Workforce (Report, 2021)

[3] Australian Human Rights Commission, Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices): Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future Report (Report, 2020) 518

[4] RDA s 9, EOA s 5, Pt 4

[5] RDA s 15; EOA Pt 4 Div 2

[6] RDA s 15; EOA Pt 4 Div 2

If you need to make a quick escape...

Click this ESC button if you need to hide your window. It will close this website and take you to the weather.