In our multicultural society, why don’t we see more diversity among our leaders? Do we have leadership that is fit for today’s Australia?
Holding up a mirror to ourselves isn’t easy. We don’t always do well with self-examination. But improvement never comes without accepting that we can do better.
Our conversations about cultural diversity must be conducted in this spirit. They should be guided by ambition and aspiration. Doing better is about us fulfilling our potential – as individuals, as organisations, as a society.
At the same time, these conversations require an honest recognition. Attitudes and cultures will have to change – but change won’t be inevitable. It may be resisted. Overcoming this requires not only talk, but also action. Good intentions must be turned into staunch commitment.
In June 2015, I invited members of the business and academic community to join me in leading this change. The Working Group on Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership was formed. Consisting of the Australian Human Rights Commission, the University of Sydney Business School, Westpac, PwC Australia and Telstra, the group is responsible for authoring this blueprint.
Our task was to develop a blueprint to guide organisations on how they could improve the representation of cultural diversity in leadership. We recognised at the time that there were significant gaps in data and considerable uncertainty about what works. We hope that this blueprint captures the status quo, and gives clarity to why and how Australia must do better.
During the past year, it has been a privilege to chair the Working Group. I thank the contributions of the group’s members: Professor Greg Whitwell, Associate Professor Rae Cooper, Ainslie Van Onselen, Ken Woo, Troy Roderick. Prior to his retirement from the NSW Police Force as Deputy Commissioner, Nick Kaldas APM was also a member.
May we see more leaders now join us in making the case for change.
Dr Tim Soutphommasane
Race Discrimination Commissioner
Australian Human Rights Commission