Summary publication

Foreword

The Australian Human Rights Commission is very pleased to launch Missing out: The business case for customer diversity in partnership with Deloitte Australia.

Equality, fairness and respect are fundamental values in our community and core tenets of our human rights and discrimination laws. It is well understood by leading organisations that promoting equality and valuing employee diversity in workplaces makes good business sense. So it came as something of a surprise to learn that the case for extending these values to customers had not been articulated and the experiences and expectations of diverse customers were not well understood.

Around 28 per cent of complaints received by the Commission in 2015-16 allege discrimination in provision of goods and services based on characteristics such as sex, age, race, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. Given this, the apparent knowledge gap concerning diverse customers seemed to present some obvious risks, as well as indicating significant missed opportunity.

This innovative research aims to address this gap. Missing out highlights the benefits of treating customer diversity and inclusion as a strategic priority. Further, it articulates a way forward for those organisations seeking to take advantage of a proactive approach beyond ensuring compliance with discrimination laws.

We wish to thank our partners Qantas, QBE, SBS and Westpac Group. It requires maturity and foresight to align with new research that challenges organisations to do business differently and we greatly value their generous support.

Gillian Triggs
President of the Australian Human Rights Commission


 

For successful businesses the customer is central to all that they do, and the research contained within Missing out: The business case for customer diversity will be invaluable to any organisation wanting to benefit from taking a customer-centric approach. It will help them to ensure they are adjusting their product set and modifying their services to reflect the needs and wants of diverse customers.

In an age of social media where supporters and detractors can make or break any sales campaign, it is perhaps more true now than ever, that customers are using their individual purchasing power to endorse organisations which fit with their personal moral codes and who actively support causes that are important to them.

A big question for any organisation is can they afford to ignore their diverse customers and in doing so, is there a hidden impact which accumulates over time?

Customers in the modern day are not homogenous and when organisations go out of their way to meet the needs of their diverse customers – whether they be women, identify as LGBTI or have a disability – the research shows that these organisations are rewarded with stalwart supporters who return for repeat business and actively campaign within their communities on behalf of that organisation.

I am thankful to the Australian Human Rights Commission for their partnership in the development of Missing out: The business case for customer diversity. Praise too for our partner organisations Qantas Airways, QBE Insurance, SBS and Westpac whose insights were instrumental in the development of this research.

And kudos to our own leaders, Juliet Bourke and Jenny Wilson for having the foresight to undertake this cutting-edge research and then to make sense of the trends in such a compelling way.

It is only through partnerships such as these that we can jointly shift the national dialog and ensure that the needs of Australia’s sophisticated, empowered and diverse community are met.

Cindy Hook
Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte Australia