Thursday 12 April 2018

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence and Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane launched the Australian Human Rights Commission report Leading for Change: A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership revisited on 11 April 2018.

Export Finance and Insurance Corporation CEO, Swati Dave, Clayton Utz partner Cilla Robinson and the Dean of the University of Sydney Business School, Professor Greg Whitwell, joined a panel discussion about cultural diversity and leadership.

The University of Sydney Business School, the Committee for Sydney, and Asia Society Australia partnered with the Human Rights Commission to produce the report.

It assessed cultural diversity among 2,490 of the most senior positions in Australia, including ASX 200 companies, government, and universities. It found a persistent lack of cultural diversity in senior leadership positions, with only 5% of senior leaders coming from cultural backgrounds other than Anglo-Celtic or European. 

The methodology used in Leading for Change is consistent with academic and industry studies of cultural background, as well as some international monitoring practices.

Case studies provided by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the University of Sydney, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Deloitte, and law firms such as Allens, Clayton Utz and Ashurst are used in the report to demonstrate ways in which cultural diversity can be achieved through leadership, data collection and cultural change.

The 2018 study follows-up on a 2016 report on cultural diversity, completed in partnership with PwC Australia, Westpac, Telstra, and the University of Sydney Business School.

“In a society where nearly one-quarter is estimated to have a non-European or Indigenous background, the findings of our Leading for Change reports challenge us to do better with our multiculturalism,” said Commissioner Soutphommasane.

“We welcome the growing support for cultural diversity expressed by the Australian Institute of Company Directors and other leading organisations.

“Diversity targets are useful because they give us something to aim for. But if we are committed to deepening our success as a multicultural society, there must be consideration of collection and reporting of comprehensive data on cultural diversity within Australian organisations and institutions."

Photo: University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Michael Spence, Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, Clayton Utz partner Cilla Robinson, Export Finance and Insurance Corporation MD and CEO, Swati Dave, and Professor Greg Whitwell, Dean of the University of Sydney Business School