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Diversity And Inclusion: Building Strength And Capability Literature Review

TitleDiversity And Inclusion: Building Strength And Capability Literature Review
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsYoung, C, Pyke, J, Maharaj, N, Rasmussen, B, Jones, R
Document Number360
Date Published03/2018
Report Number360
ISBN Number978-1-86272-780-9
Keywordschange management and innovation., diversity in emergency services/emergency management sector, diversity systems and diversity process, effective diversity and inclusion, inclusion in the emergency services/emergency management sector, measurement of effective diversity and inclusion, systemic diversity

The recent Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) National Council stance – that there are ‘unacceptably low levels of diversity’ in emergency services, and the recognition that emergency services need to better reflect the communities they work to serve (National Strategy for Disaster Resilience, National Emergency Management Committee, 2011) – is driving new programs and policies in this area. There is also a growing awareness that there are a number of benefits that can result from diversity, particularly to the community. The strategy also recognises that being able to interact and communicate effectively with diverse communities is critical to the building of resilience and reduction of risk associated with natural hazard events.

The context for the EMS is changing as a result of dynamic social (changing demographics), environmental (the changing nature of natural hazard risk) and economic drivers (the increasing cost of responding to natural hazard events, resource constraints and changing technologies). These are driving the need for change and innovation across organisations in the EMS if they are to remain sustainable into the future. It is important to understand how these different factors influence and shape decision making, and the opportunities and barriers that organisations face when implementing policies relating to diversity and inclusion.

When looked at holistically, human diversity is broad, and its study bridges both the grey and refereed literature. This is because its nature is systemic, cultural and institutional – touching every aspect of society. For an organisation to be successful in this area, it needs to define the system in which diversity exists, the specific context that diversity is being implemented in, and the different stages of the process of implementing diversity. A critical part of implementing diversity is the creation of inclusive workplaces that embrace and effectively manage difference. This needs to be combined with organisational change and innovation across all levels, within and beyond their organisations. You have existing organisations, so what is being created – the organisation or a strategic approach? To do this requires an understanding of where these differences lie in the diversity system of the organisations and the communities that surround them, and where organisations have agency and the ability to act. It also requires an understanding of the interactions within specific contexts between different actors, and the personal and organisational attributes, characteristics and values that support effective diversity actions.

This review provides a preliminary overview of the literature related to systemic and implementation process-focused aspects of human diversity and their relevance to EMS organisations. It examines the diversity and inclusion literature to assess how it can support the practice of implementing effective diversity and inclusion within organisations, with a specific focus on Australian EMS organisations that work with bushfire and natural hazards. It also summarises the current context and factors that shape the Australian EMS, and provides a working definition of effective diversity and inclusion for further development. Finally, it discusses the different components that make up the process of implementing diversity policy and plans within EMS organisations, and some of the challenges for both research and practice. Its key purpose is to identify areas of literature that are potentially useful for the development of a framework to support implementation of diversity throughout the Australian EMS.

Refereed DesignationRefereed

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