Celebrating the World Day for Cultural Diversity on 21st May is a good time to reflect on the changing face of employment in Melbourne, particularly here at Precision.
Did you know - Victoria is one of the most culturally diverse states in Australia, with 49.1% of Victorians born overseas or born in Australia with at least one parent born overseas (Census 2016). This trend has seen a change in the demographics of our workforce; currently we have 75% of our employees born outside Australia and only 25% born here. This of course has both advantages and challenges.
Employees who have started their careers in other countries bring with them different experience and qualifications. The Electronics Industry in Australia is much smaller (on a global scale) and consequently more Electronic Engineers come from overseas. They are generally more experienced in (high volume) automated manufacturing, which benefits Precision by having international workers impart this knowledge to us. Conversely, we train these new employees in the practice of smaller runs, prototypes and more high-quality work. It is this combination of skills that enables us to have such a versatile and flexible workforce.
One of the main challenges of such a diverse workforce can be language, so we try to have English as the main language spoken whenever work is discussed. Another is understanding the different customs, behaviours and ways of dealing with confrontation, feedback and hierarchy that exist in some cultures. Many employees believe that they can’t question their boss on anything and would be too afraid to make suggestions or have a candid conversation with their manager or supervisor. We have tried to combat this by encouraging and promoting employee ideas (through suggestion boxes and tablets) and awarding a monthly voucher to the employee with the best idea. We support open communication through our Employee Development Review Process and encourage workers to feel comfortable giving feedback to their superiors.
By demonstrating a strong belief in our values which are: Excellence, Collaboration, Integrity, Respect, Responsibility and Courage, we endeavour to promote a workforce that displays tolerance and refrains from being judgemental toward one another. We pride ourselves on having key managers who take the time to understand cultural differences and how best to approach individual workers.
Food is a great medium for embracing our cultural diversity. Last year we held our Christmas function on the premises and our entire staff contributed a traditional dish from their own culture. We then danced to music ranging from top 40 to Bollywood. We celebrated World Day for Cultural Diversity in a similar way.
Of course, we love to pass on the Aussie traditions as well, so we have quarterly BBQs (which have become legendary in Hong Kong) and we introduce all employees to Australian Rules Football.
Each employee brings something of themselves to the business and we encourage individuality and foster the concept that all cultures see things a little differently. If we all thought the same way and shared the same views, then there would be no creativity and innovation. As Precision moves into the future, we will be relying more on innovation to bring fresh ideas for products and processes; and embracing this mix of cultural diversity will enable us to achieve that.