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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.
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.
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.
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:
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. This includes discrimination against job applicants, employees, agents, independent contractors and contract workers.
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
Ensure equitable recruitment and employment
Review and amend existing policies
2. Provide expert training and resources
3. Foster an accepting and safe workplace culture
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.
Get in touch with one of our team members if you have any questions – 08 8410 6499.
 RDA s 18A, EOA s 91
 Diversity Council Australia, Inclusion@Work Index 2021-2022: Mapping the State of Inclusion in the Australian Workforce (Report, 2021) https://www.dca.org.au/sites/default/files/synopsis_2021-22_inclusionwork.pdf.
 Australian Human Rights Commission, Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices): Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future Report (Report, 2020) 518 https://humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/ahrc_wiyi_yani_u_thangani_report_2020.pdf.
 RDA s 9, EOA s 5, Pt 4
 RDA s 15; EOA Pt 4 Div 2
 RDA s 15; EOA Pt 4 Div 2