Friday 29 July 2016

A landmark study of leadership in business, politics, government and civil society has revealed an overwhelming Anglo-Celtic dominance that belies the cultural diversity of Australian society.

“Our society celebrates its multicultural character, but our leadership isn’t as multicultural as you’d expect,” said Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane.

“Across business, politics, government and civil society, no more than 5 per cent of leadership positions are held by people from non-European cultural backgrounds. This begs some questions about unconscious bias and institutional barriers to equal opportunity.”

At Westpac headquarters in Sydney on 29 July, Dr Soutphommasane and Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer will launch a blueprint for change, challenging organisations to reconsider their cultural defaults on leadership.

Dr Soutphommasane developed Leading for Change: A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership in partnership with the University of Sydney Business School, Westpac, PwC Australia and Telstra.

The blueprint is the first of its kind, investigating the cultural composition of leadership within the ASX200, Federal Parliament, the Australian public service, state and territory public services and universities.

The blueprint recommends strategies such as stronger leadership, better data collection, the use of diversity targets, and improved training and professional development to increase cultural diversity at senior levels.

“There’s room for improvement on cultural diversity and leadership. Leading for Change provides a blueprint for how organisations can start,” Dr Soutphommasane said.

Dr Tim Soutphommasane and Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer will launch Leading for Change at 10am on 29 July at Westpac Group, 200 Barangaroo Ave, Sydney.

Please note: media are invited to attend but are requested to register first with Georgina Adcock on (02) 9368 4501 or 0411 331 552.

Media contact for comment: Dominic O’Grady for Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane. M: 0419 258 597 or

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