AHRC Working Group: Leading for Change: A Blueprint for Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership

Australian Human Rights Commission Working Group

Leading for Change: A Blueprint for Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership, The Commission, Sydney, 2016

The Working Group was chaired by Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner, and included Greg Whitwell, Rae Cooper, Ainslie Van Onselen, Ken Woo, Troy Roderick and Nick Kaldas.

In our multicultural society, why don’t we see more diversity among our leaders? [asks the Foreword of the report] 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.

The key findings of the report were that while 32 per cent of the Australian population have a non-Anglo-Celtic background, senior leaders are still overwhelmingly Anglo-Celtic and European (77 per cent of 201 CEOs of leading companies are Anglo-Celtic, 18 per cent European, five per cent non-European, none Indigenous). Similarly of 124 heads of federal and state departments, only two are non-European and only one is Indigenous. All 40 university vice-chancellors are Anglo-Celtic or European.

‘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.’

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