Workforce mutuality is used to describe the extent to which an organizations diversity or workforce is a reflection of the diversity that exists in the community served by the organization. The description of this term is often confused with workforce diversity. However, an organization’s workforce may be highly diverse yet it may not be a reflection of the diversity that exists in the community that it serves. People from diverse communities are more likely to access health and community services and more likely to report satisfaction with improved health outcomes, as said by Dr Martin Plowman in his interview to Diversity Atlas.
Workforce mutuality has several benefits. One of the major benefits is a better workforce. Organizations that observe workforce mutuality tend to perform better leading to the realization of an organization’s primary business. According to Deloitte & VEOHRC, diverse and inclusive workplace tends to be more creative and innovative, efficient, better in decision making and problem-solving and attracts the top talents. The study carried out by Deloitte & VEOHRC indicates that organizations utilizing workforce mutuality tend to perform better, reduced employee absenteeism, and have greater employee satisfaction (Deloitte & VEOHRC 2013, Hunt et al 2015).
There is also a lot of evidence that indicates that community sectors with high mutuality in their workforce enjoy benefits such as more responsive and skilled workforce that have a comprehensive understanding of what is required of them by the community, workforce equipped to work with the community, improved access to services to the community, and more opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds. Every organization should consider implementing workforce mutuality for several reasons.
Mutuality is above just representation
Promoting diversity doesn’t guarantee an equitable workplace. Several instances of promoting diversity are limited to representation. Therefore, if diversity is limited to the external portrayal of distinction rather than being constituted in a long-lasting process of working to closer mutuality with society, it can easily become tokenistic. For real change to occur, diversity should be embedded into the organization’s primary practices.
The standards acknowledged in promoting all forms of representation include gender identity, diversity in language and culture, sexual identity, religion, ability, and age. If this is the case, mutuality goes beyond just representation. The standards of workforce mutuality recognize that there is a need to prioritize creating an overall organization culture that acknowledges the diversity that exists within the organization (among the staff) and the community around it. The standards emphasize on the essence of encouraging diversity and representation as fundamental values both within the organization and outside the organization while recognizing that the organization must also progress Beyond tokenism efforts of representation to become a reflection of the highly diverse community.
Attainment of mutuality in the workforce is not just the business of making the placements to contemplate the exact diversity in the community. For several organizations, mostly those that are being established, it would not be achievable. Instead, mutuality in workforce constitutes a set of modern practices and the attitudes that surround enlisting, retention, the culture in the workplace and the engagement with the community. Mutuality in the workforce is not a means to the end; however, it is best if it is considered as a continuous process that should be embedded to the organization’s primary business practices, values and vision.
To achieve workforce mutuality with the community, an organization should promote an organizational culture that values diversity publicly. In addition to promoting inclusion and representation as part of the organization’s core values, the standards of the mutual workforce also outline the criterion for embedding diversity in the organization’s fundamental practices, such as making diversity part of strategic planning, training staff to be culturally competent, incorporation of the workforce from a diverse background as main players in processes and activities aimed at enhancing mutuality, and allocating resources to improve mutuality in the workforce. Read more about how to make your diverse workforce diversity agile
Better Services and Response
One of the outcomes of workforce mutuality is quality service that is tailored to the diverse community needs, thereby, greater equality in health. A set of people or an individual can be said to have health equity if there is no disadvantages or avertable barriers blocking them from accessing the equal level of health compared to others (Braveman, 2003). The mutuality in the workforce helps to eliminate or reduce the barriers that the community may experience while using or accessing health and community services. With workforce mutuality, services will become universally responsive and more adaptable to all community members.
Workforce mutuality also provides an organization with operational and strategic advantage considering that people are more likely to consider services that are easy to find and use, and that suits their individual needs.
Importance of Workforce Mutuality in Public Sector and Policy Making
There is evidence that suggests that the management that is extra reflective of the community that it serves is in a better position to understand what an extensively diverse community needs. An organization that is more inclusive and is a reflection of the community’s diversity is more in touch with what the community requires of them, it is in a position to provide them with enhanced services and will constitute a highly-skilled and innovative staff.
Through workforce mutuality, public sectors can achieve special needs of a diverse community and enhance the overall service delivery and result through a partnership with the community and organizations from diverse societies. Evidence also indicates that an increase in workforce mutuality in public sectors such as health and community services sector benefits the consumers and the organization mutually. Workforce mutuality results in the provision of services that are universally responsive and more adaptable.
Workforce mutuality in public sectors such as healthcare supports the participation of community members from diverse backgrounds in their own system of healthcare. Therefore, enhancement of workforce mutuality in community and health sector alters the social determinants of community health for a society that is diverse while enhancing the sector’s core business simultaneously.
Measuring the Mutuality Gap
Mutuality gap implies the failure of an organization’s workforce to reflect the actual diversity within the community in which they serve. This gap is viewed as a barrier to equitable and responsive delivery of service. To resolve this, such organizations should make diversification of the sector’s workforce a priority. The measurement of mutuality gap is based on a set of developed standards that provides guidance. The establishment of standards should be based on the principles of the right to equitable employment, diversity as an organizational strength, and partnering with the community to improve consumer outcome.
It is important for every organization to measure the workforce mutuality gap in order to determine what needs to be done to seal the gap. This can be determined through measurement of the changes that may occur in service delivery that results from working towards enhancing workforce mutuality. This will motivate the organization to further improvements. The feedback from consumers of services will also help in the enhancement of mutuality activities through identification of areas of improvement.
Better Employment Outcomes
Another benefit of workforce mutuality is the allocation of more job and career opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds, which results in inequitable employment for all. The health and social sectors constitute major employers in the economy; therefore, the sectors can contribute to local social and economic outcomes through procurement and employment (Boyce & Brown 2019). If these sectors adhere to workforce mutuality, an overall positive impact of equality will be felt.
While the needs of different communities vary with respect to their present access to social and health services including their involvement in the workforce, the principles of workforce mutuality applies to every member of the community. It utilizes the principles and concepts of inclusion and diversity because diversity is the main focus at now. Workforce mutuality has several benefits including equitable employment, better representation and service delivery, and fair representation. The progress towards the achievement of workforce mutuality should be measured to motivate the team to participate in its achievement.
Boyce, T., & Brown, C. (2019). Economic and social impacts and benefits of health systems. World Health Organisation. Regional Office for Europe.
Braveman, P., & Gruskin, S. (2003). Defining equity in health. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 57(4), 254-258.
Deloitte & Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission. (2013). Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? A new recipe to improve business performance. Deloitte Research Report.
Diversity Council of Australia. (2013). Capitalising on Culture: A Study of the Cultural Origins of ASX 200 Business Leaders [Interactive Flyer]
Hunt, V., Layton, D., & Prince, S. (2015). Why diversity matters. McKinsey & Company, 1(1), 15-29.