Date: 
Tuesday 6 December 2016

A group of eight leaders from Australian business, academia and government have agreed to promote diversity in leadership through a newly-established Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity.

Members of the Council include PwC Australia’s CEO Luke Sayers, Corrs Chambers Westgarth chief John Denton, University of Queensland vice-chancellor Professor Peter Hoj, EY Oceania chief executive Tony Johnson, Emotiv founder and chief executive Tan Le, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet Secretary Dr Martin Parkinson, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO Ian Narev.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane (pictured with CBA's Ian Narev) established the Leadership Council following the release earlier this year of Leading for Change: A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership.

Leading for Change identified a significant lack of cultural diversity in Australia’s leadership positions. It urged corporate leaders to improve cultural diversity by setting diversity targets in employment and to counter bias by expanding professional development programs.

“Progress on cultural diversity requires leadership. Cultural change is only possible when it’s driven from the top. This council will provide some of that leadership,” Dr Soutphommasane said.

“Australia’s multiculturalism is a success. But often it stops at food and festivals. We should be doing more to ensure cultural diversity also makes it beyond our lobby and lunchrooms, and into our corridors of power.

“Merit requires a level playing field. If cultural diversity is under-represented in leadership, it may reflect biases and barriers. We should be doing more to ensure we make the most of our society’s talents.”

Dr Soutphommasane said the founding members of the Leadership Council will play an important role in leading conversations about the value of cultural diversity.
Council members have agreed to act as role models on diversity and inclusion, and to share their experiences, data and results.