Political leadership needs to ‘walk the talk’ on diversity

By Neha Soudagar
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Political leadership needs to ‘walk the talk’ on diversity
(L-R) Ayushi Dixit, Preeti Sharma, Priyanka Nomula, Sherry Bali

The discussions have continued in the Australian Indian community ever since the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released report confirming lack of diversity in senior corporate and political leadership roles in Australia.

A recently released report by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) highlighted the lack of diversity in senior leadership roles, and 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.

Prachi Panchal catches up with few Victorian Indians on their view of the survey results.

Political leadership needs to ‘walk the talk’ on diversity
Ayushi Dixit
Ayushi Dixit
IT Professional, AFL Ambassador

About 25 per cent of Australians were born overseas, while almost half of the population has at least one parent who was born overseas. Although English is the most widely spoken language in the country, the next most common languages spoken at home were Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Hindi as revealed in the 2016 National Census. The country has more than 100 religions and about 300 ethnic groups, making it one of the world’s biggest melting pot.

Despite such favourable figures in cultural diversity, this latest AHRC report confirming lack of Anglo-Celtic and non-European in leadership roles is alarming, but not surprising. Organisations should now look to conduct a reality check on their hiring practices, identify if there have been issues, and make revisions in the team dynamics for a real change. The release of this report should be treated as an eye-opener towards baby steps that need to be taken to make Australia a truly ethnically diverse country. It would be a good time to walk the talk now!

Political leadership needs to ‘walk the talk’ on diversity
Sherry Bali
Sherry Bali
Health and Lifestyle Empowerment Coach, Online Fitness Trainer
Ambassador—Richmond Tigers

Australia is a multicultural society. Almost half of the population were either born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. Australia is not only growing its international business networks, but more and more organisations are embracing cultural diversity. There are clear benefits and undeniable evidence that shows how cultivating diversity has helped organisations to enhance business performance and productivity, increase innovate and creative thinking, save time and money, reduce risk and promote staff health and wellbeing.

One very simple mantra that most companies and Human resource departments use is to recruit based on merit and talent, this automatically leads a diverse workforce. A majority of Australian employers seem to understand their rights and responsibilities to ensure a discrimination-free workplace. However, like everything there is a huge scope for improvement, especially in the areas like leadership, strategy, decision making and monetary control.

The biggest challenge lies in changing attitude, empathy, power and privilege. Once we bring that change we will be seeing more diverse leaders from different backgrounds.

Political leadership needs to ‘walk the talk’ on diversity
Priyanka Nomula
Priyanka Nomula
Business Analyst, AFL Multicultural Ambassador

Multiculturalism is one of the most important realities of Australian society and people here are well endured with this. The one question that is still unanswered is whether the people from different backgrounds are equally accepted and given opportunities to the top leadership roles.

When people from different backgrounds come together, the horizon of perspective mind thinking expands, and there occurs the birth of new ideas and new inventions. In saying so, be it a workplace or a community group, each contributor provides 100 per cent trust and also expects the same back. The expectation here would be nothing out of the box but equality in individual career progression.

For those in the next leagues and the coming generations, it is a matter of confidence and motivation to have a representative leader from their community and that the channel for leadership is open for all eligible individuals. To this date, we still have scarcity in the leadership roles.

Political leadership needs to ‘walk the talk’ on diversity
Preeti Sharma
Preeti Sharma
Sales & Marketing
Ambassador—Melbourne Stars

We are a culturally diverse country. The term “culturally diverse” is often used interchangeably with the concept of “multiculturalism”. Multiculturalism may be defined as: “A system of beliefs and behaviours that recognises and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organisation or society, acknowledges and values their socio-cultural differences, and encourages and enables their continued contribution within an inclusive cultural context which empowers all within the organisation or society.”

Cultural diversity is important because our country, workplaces, and schools increasingly consist of various cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. We can learn from one another, but first we must have a level of understanding about each other in order to facilitate collaboration and cooperation. Learning about other cultures helps us understand different perspectives within the world in which we live, and helps dispel negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups and contribute to society in more innovative ways.

In addition, cultural diversity helps us recognise and respect “ways of being” that are not necessarily our own, so that as we interact with others we can build bridges to trust, respect, and understanding across cultures. Furthermore, this diversity makes our country a more interesting place to live, as people from diverse cultures contribute language skills, new ways of thinking, new knowledge, and different experiences.

 

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