Skip to content

Unlocking Leadership: Conversations on Gender and Race in Corporate Australia

Unlocking Leadership: Conversations on Gender and Race in Corporate Australia

The Unlocking Leadership: Conversations on Gender and Race in Corporate Australia report explores the experiences of culturally and racially diverse women in senior leadership roles in Australia’s ASX300 companies and indicates that conversations about race remain largely taboo in corporate Australia.

The report, which is based on 27 interviews conducted by Intersection, outlines five actions for leaders and businesses to unlock the potential of culturally diverse women leaders.

Actions for Leaders

1.  Lead a conversation about cultural and racial diversity

Intersectional diversity should be an organisational priority, not confined to a single department or team. Leaders should develop their understanding of intersectionality and create the space for new conversations about cultural and racial diversity.

2.  Role model curiosity and engage in self-reflection

Leaders and allies can role model curiosity and a learning mindset, in consultation with the workforce, while acknowledging any mistakes and committing to self-improvement. However, we caution leaders against placing the burden of cultural responsibility on culturally and racially diverse people.

3.  Gather data, set goals, measure progress, and hold leaders to account

Data and targets have vastly improved the representation of women in corporate Australia. Now is the time to build on that success, improve data gathering, and work towards setting organisational targets for cultural and racial diversity. Boards and executives should regularly track progress and communicate outcomes.

4.  Actively invest in sponsorship

Sponsorship is highly effective in building the talent pipeline. Leaders should seek opportunities to sponsor culturally and racially diverse women and lead executive teams to do the same.

5.  Build culturally safe workplaces and break down systemic barriers

Examine organisational policies and practices (particularly in relation to recruitment and progression processes), assess cultural and racial safety, and take action. Reorganise social and networking events to ensure inclusion and create opportunities for cultural exchanges and celebrations of religious and significant cultural days.

Thank you to Macquarie Group for sponsoring the report, and to our CEW Project Steering Committee including Dr Juliet Bourke, Dr Marlene Kanga AO, Lynnette Sarno, Violet Roumeliotis AM and Pauline Vamos.