Breaking the glass ceiling—diversity talks continue

By Neha Soudagar
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‘Diversity is so much more than celebrating festivals or encouraging co-workers to bring their national dish to office’

A recently released report by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) highlighted the lack of diversity in senior leadership roles. It revealed that 97 per cent of Australia’s chief executives have Anglo-Celtic and European backgrounds, sparking calls for diversity in leadership roles; and that Australians with non-European or Indigenous backgrounds hold just 5 per cent per cent of senior leadership positions, despite comprising about 24 per cent of the population. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane had stated that the findings challenged Australia’s egalitarian self-image.

Neha Soudagar catches up with a few women professionals in the community to get their opinion on the report.

Sonika Sha
SONIKA SHA
Mortgage broker, AFL Ambassador

The AHRC report has found that Australians with non-European or indigenous backgrounds hold just 5 per cent of senior leadership positions, despite comprising 24 per cent of the population. A relevant example is that there is no Victorian Indian pre-selected from any of the winnable seats leading up to Victorian State elections in November 2018, by both the major political parties.

Change is needed in this direction, for the current generation and next generation to stay motivated, for the development of the country in a way that no one feels discriminated against. As citizens of this country, we all deserve equal opportunities.

Sultana Asgar
SULTANA ASGAR
Former customs officer

Another state election is around the corner, and again both major political parties have failed to preselect a single Victorian Indian from any of the winnable seats. This is despite the fact that the Victorian Indian community is one of the largest migrants groups in Victoria, including in the marginal seats such as Cranbourne, Frankston, Carrum, and Bentleigh.

Politicians need to go further than the talking about cricket, curry and Bollywood. India is more than the Taj Mahal and Gandhi. Life is more than selfies and posts on social media with few Victorian Indians present in photos here and there. Victorian Indians deserve more than that.

The major revenue for the Victorian Government comes from stamp duties and land tax, and here too, the Victorian Indian community is a major contributor, apart from contributing heavily in the Growth Area Infrastructure Contribution (GAIC). Despite this, the Indian events in Cranbourne and Wyndham receive minimal VMC funding. Why should the community in Cranbourne and Wyndham subsidise multicultural events in the CBD?

Our community association, and business councils like AIBC need to ask for more. But for them to be taken seriously they need to show membership strength, so perhaps they need to be more welcoming in accepting new financial members.

Shruti Malviya
SHRUTI MALVIYA
Law student, AFL Ambassador—Richmond Tigers

Cultural diversity is one of the most effective ways to bring people together and achieve mutual respect. From my experience at university I have found encouraging cultural diversity has nothing but good results. It provides an environment where individuals can grow and learn not only from each other about tasks at hand but also cultures thereby diminishing discrimination—unconscious or not. The need for equality between cultures is becoming more important with every passing day.

The participation of people from various cultural groups has indicated enhanced creativity, productivity and perspective, giving me a richer life experience and wealth of knowledge. Cultural diversity is something that should be encouraged in all aspects of society: business, education, politics, and society. The benefits are rewarding.

Sonal Sharma
SONAL SHARMA
IT professional, poet
Miss Congeniality (Don Bella 2018), AFL Ambassador

Melbourne’s biggest strength is its diversity and multiculturalism. However there are few concerns that get raised from time to time about diversity in decision making roles which has ignited many debates. But we still have miles to go.

The government tries to be generous in promoting different cultures, but at the same time individuals from diverse community groups are not considered for the top positions in decision making roles.

We have seen that in the private sector diversity can make a positive impact and now it’s time the government sector wakes up. And we should start seeing more diverse communities contributing in leadership roles for a better nation.

Sadhna Wilson
SADHNA WILSON
Author—Tropical Vegetarian 

Diversity in the workplace is so much more than celebrating festivals or encouraging your staff to bring their national dish to celebrate events like Harmony Day. Diversity in the workplace is also much more than accepting your co-workers to express their heritage, for example, allowing a Sikh man to wear his turban to work.

Whilst food does play a large role in bringing people together, is it really enough to just celebrate festivals in the workplace? Acceptance and understanding of a co-worker’s culture is something that we as a multicultural nation are very proud of but there is a lack of multicultural representation in the private sector in leadership roles. Cultural diversity needs to be encouraged in our parliaments before it can “break the glass ceiling”.

 

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