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‘The drivers of discrimination are fear and ignorance’

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Cultural diversity is important inside and outside the workplace. A diverse group of people bring different opinions, experiences, and values. Utilising this in the workplace can promote innovation and performance.

Peter Mousaferiadis, chief executive at Cultural Infusion, said it’s extremely beneficial for companies to have a culturally diverse headcount.

“The more diverse and more inclusive cultures that organisations develop, they’re six times more likely to be innovative, they’re six times more likely to anticipate change and respond and adapt in a very effective way, and they’re 35 per cent more likely to better perform and have an improved return on investment,” said Mr Mousaferiadis.


“Organisations are also better at making creative decisions when they’re more diverse. If everyone thinks the same, then no one’s doing any thinking.”

Mr Mousaferiadis noted that candidates take diversity into consideration when job hunting. This means if done with care, cultural diversity could help attract talent, helping to mitigate talent shortages.

“Sixty-seven per cent of jobseekers that have been interviewed think that diverse workforces are really important. And if you look at Millennials today, 83 per cent of them have basically stated that they want to be actively engaged in a culture that is placing DEI right at the heart of that organisation,” he explained.

Recognising just how important someone’s cultural heritage is to their individuality is key.

“Recently, I was in a webinar with the global director for diversity, equity and inclusion of SAP, Supriya Jha. And she said, ‘my identity as a Hindu person is more important than my identity as a woman.’ So, she was placing religion before gender,” Mr Mousaferiadis said.

“You might ask yourself why? Well, it informs what she eats, it informs what she reads, and it informs how she thinks. So, we can’t discredit when we’re doing this work of diversity, equity, inclusion.”

He continued: “We’re not paying everyone to bring their full self to a workplace, but if you’re ignoring aspects of their identity, then you’re missing out on the opportunity to really forge meaningful relationships with your stakeholders.”

Achieving this level of cultural inclusion can even be as simple as adjusting the idea of Christmas holidays.

Mr Mousaferiadis commented: “If you knew that 7 per cent of your workforce identified with Islam, you might say, ‘we know Christmas is not an important day for you, let’s look at working on floating days. Let’s acknowledge you in our newsletters, or let’s have a day for you that we can acknowledge you.’”

Effective DEI initiatives begin with leadership, said Mr Mousaferiadis: “Diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the whole organisation really needs to be adopted by the C-suite. They need to be making those decisions.”

“They need to take the time to understand this because if they do, it’s not only going to improve their bottom line. If they’ve got a workforce that’s happy at the end of the day, and they’ve got a workforce that’s engaged, and they’re not having to turn over that work every few months, not only is it going to improve the bottom line, the good that they do within the workforce will resonate into the community.”

Mr Mousaferiadis concluded: “We recognise that the drivers of discrimination are fear and ignorance. The counter drivers become collaboration and familiarisation. So really getting people to come together can really foster greater intercultural understanding.”



Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.


According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, discrimination occurs when one individual or group of people is regarded less favourably than another because of their origins or certain personality traits. When a regulation or policy is unfairly applied to everyone yet disadvantages some persons due to a shared personal trait, that is also discrimination.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.