Women on Boards (WOB) established a Cultural Diversity Committee (CDC) in 2020 with the aim of addressing barriers to leadership and in board and committee roles for culturally diverse women.
The idea for the committee came out of discussions about the lack of cultural diversity in Australian leadership. While the ABS places the percentage of local Australian graduates from non-Anglo/European backgrounds at almost half of all graduates, the Human Rights Commission reports that only 5% of these graduates will eventually be appointed to leadership roles in Australia.
It has been proven that culturally diverse leadership teams and boards are better equipped to handle competition and cement their company’s position in a globally competitive market, due to connections and cultural awarenesss. Cultural diversity also offers the advantage of attracting and retaining global talent, encourages critical, non-uniform thinking and results in greater innovation and higher profitability.
Women on Board’s vision is to have both gender balanced and culturally diverse board and leadership roles. As advocates for women, we are primarily looking at how we can support female cultural diversity within boards.
Our CDC is working to address the barriers to opportunity and access to leadership roles for diverse women. Only a truly diversified leadership structure can begin to address existing inequities at a systemic level.
Key areas of focus for the Committee
>>Go to Cultural Diversity Resources
- Collating data & diversity facts, telling stories and collaborating with bodies in Australia who act and promote cultural diversity, to enlarge the influence of our collective action and accelerate progress.
- Influencing and raising awareness to increase understanding and promote a bias to action; including creating opportunities for culturally diverse women to connect, network and interact with decision makers.
- Creating a mentorship program promoting diverse women into leadership roles in Australia.
Sara Pantaleo (Chair)
Founder, Affari SP, NED & Chair
Sara was born in Italy and migrated to Australia at the age of 11. She is a business woman passionate about diversity and has always loved working and mentoring people. In 1996 she joined La Porchetta and took a major shift from the corporate environment into small family business. She initially joined as Distribution and Administration Manager and was appointed as CEO in 2005 and as a Director in 2010. She was instrumental in driving La Porchetta’s growth to become the largest, licensed, a-la-carte restaurant franchise in Australasia today. She achieved this by building corporate systems and process that enabled the company to expand without compromising its core family values and culture. Sara is passionate about franchising as a business model. She has been a member of the FCA National Board and served as Vice-President of the Victorian chapter of the FCA. She is also a Non-Executive Director of the Family Business Australia National Board. A former National Franchise Woman of the Year (2010), Sara is also a Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Victorian finalist (2012). LinkedIn
Nicole Donegan GAICD (Vice Chair)
Chief Operating Officer / Director, Women on Boards
Nicole has over 25 years experience working across the corporate and not for profit sectors, with more than 10 years' on boards. Nicole has consulted extensively to all levels of government and the education and corporate sectors in the areas of research, strategy, marketing and customer / member experience. She is currently on the Board of Triathlon Australia and has previously been on the the Boards of START Foundation and Mens' Health Australia (Foudnation 49). LinkedIn
Executive Director Asset Activations School Infrastructure NSW, Department of Education NSW & Board member of PCYC NSW and WAGEC
Claire is a proud Yorta Yorta woman and prominent senior NSW Public Servant with over 21 years of experience in government across agencies such as Transport, Treasury and Education. Claire has been a three-time finalist in the Premier’s Awards, a Finalist in the Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year Awards and Finalist in the Women’s Agenda Awards. Claire is an advocate for young people and the community who believes in making a difference and being the difference. She embodies the spirit of inclusivity and diversity and wants every community and every young person to feel known, valued and cared for. LinkedIn
Seema Chauhan arrived in Australia 25 years ago as an international student from India. She completed her Bachelor of Management (UniSA) and Master of Business Administration (Griffith Uni), fell in love with Australia and decided to make it her permanent home.
Seema’s diverse professional experience spans events management, hospitality, creative arts (films), marketing, migration and, most recently, in the not-for-profit sector, working with communities to lead social change and empower communities.
As a leader within the Indian community in Queensland, Seema draws on her lived experiences to foster a strong bond in the broader community. Her passion for diversity, equity and inclusion brings people together, bridging cultures and building connections within a thriving and harmonious multicultural network.
As the Multicultural Ambassador for the Gold Coast Titans and Mental Health Foundation Australia and previously for the 2018 Commonwealth Games she amplifies her impact on a broader scale. LinkedIn
Graduate and Inclusion Manager, Marsh and McLennan
Miriam has 15 years experience across technology, financial services and property industries. She is currently at Marsh as the Graduate and Inclusion Manager. She is also a Committee Member on UTS’ Human Research Ethics Committee. Previously at Microsoft, Miriam managed their graduate program, as well as diversity and inclusion initiatives. At Stockland, she designed and launched the company’s graduate program, as well as managed learning and talent programs. LinkedIn
Policy Officer, WA Department of Health
Bernadette arrived in Australia over 15 years ago as an international student. She completed her Master’s in Public Health and chose to stay and make Australia her second home. Born in Kenya, Bernadette has built her career working with multicultural communities in Western Australia. She has over 15 years’ experience working in health promotion and community development within both the not-for-profit and public sectors. As Coordinator of the Office of Multicultural Interests’ Leadership and Governance Program, Bernadette is a strong advocate and active supporter of increasing gender and cultural diversity on boards within the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors. LinkedIn
Dr Marilyn Metta
Dr Marilyn Metta is the Director and Founder of The Metis Centre and a leading expert in trauma research, gender and cultural diversity, social justice, and human rights. As an award-winning author and researcher, she has published widely on social justice issues.
She is the Founder and Chairperson of Mettamorphosis Inc, a not-for-profit charitable organisation working to provide access to education and promote safety and wellbeing of marginalised young people. She has been awarded the 2021 Westpac Social Change Fellowship for her Feeling Safe and Free initiative, which is an innovative trauma-informed program for young people on personal and relational safety. The initiative has been awarded 2022 QBE Foundation Local Grant for Inclusion and 2021 Westpac Safer Children, Safer Communities Impact Seed Funding. LinkedIn
Malini Raj (taking leave of absence)
Head of Strategy (Multicultural Community Banking), Commonwealth Bank
Malini has over 20 years of experience working across several domestic and international Financial Services organisations. She is currently Head of Strategy for Multicultural Community Banking at the Commonwealth Bank, a role which allows her to work in her area of passion on a daily basis – promoting cultural diversity and social cohesion. She consistently advocates for a more diverse workforce/diverse representation in the community and is seen as a strong ambassador/thought-leader for diversity and inclusion and is also Chair of CommBank’s Cultural Diversity employee network Mosaic which is responsible for promoting culturally diversity and inclusion across the Group. She has a strong interest in making a social impact, reflected in her involvement in various Board and Advisory Board roles. LinkedIn
Helen Tran (taking leave of absence)
HR Business Lead, Paramount Australia and NZ
Helen has over 15 years experience in Human Resources. She is an experienced HR professional having worked across Employee Relations, Performance Development, People Strategy & Planning, Leadership Capabilities and Diversity and Inclusion. Helen is currently a HR Business Partner Lead for Paramount Australia and New Zealand, a member of its PROUD group and responsible for implementing and leading Paramount’s Reconciliation Action Plan in the position of RAP Co-Chair. She has completed the John Yu Fellowship, in Cultural Diversity and Leadership at the University of Sydney Business School. Helen believes that a fairer representation of culturally diverse women in leadership roles is essential to organisational growth and working towards true workplace inclusivity. LinkedIn
Head of Regulatory Enablement and Delivery at NAB
Named 2022 Emerging Leader in the Private Sector, Womens Agenda Awards. Read more
With over 15 years of international experience, Gloria is a risk management evangelist who infuses Inclusion and Diversity principles in effective risk management, strategy and innovation and corporate governance. She serves as Chair of NAB’s Cultural Inclusion Employee Resource Group steering strategic initiatives to accelerate cultural diversity in leadership and harness the power of cultural inclusion for customers colleagues and communities. Gloria also volunteers with various for-purpose organisations with a mission to grow the talent pipeline of professional women and develops initiatives to amplify the voice of women of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Before moving to Australia with NAB in 2016, she held various advisory and senior management positions with NAB Asia, JP Morgan Chase, Banco Santander and China Merchants Bank. Gloria was recently named “40 Under 40: Most Influential Asian-Australian” and the Rising Star Award winner by WiBF for her contributions and achievements in the corporate sector. Gloria obtained her law degree from the University of Hong Kong and is a certified professional practitioner and fellow member of the International Compliance Association. LinkedIn
Mahjabeen Zaman ACIA
Head of FX Research, ANZi, 2022 Winner Corporate Category, orporate category, 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians Awards.
Over 17 years of experience in financial services has helped Mahjabeen develop a deep understanding of investment markets and a wide professional network, both in Australia and Internationally. Mahjabeen's experience in managing Sub-institutional clients and Ultra High Net Worth individuals/families across various geographies including Singapore, Indonesia, Indian subcontinent, UAE, UK and Australia, has embedded her with a global mindset and approach to managing complex investment solutions, portfolio management and relationship building. Mahjabeen is passionate about diversity and inclusion. She is a member of the Citi Women’s Network Committee and member of the NSW State Leadership Committee for Women in Banking and Finance - Australia. LinkedIn
Go to Cultural Diversity Resources
Sara Panteleo - Chair | 0412 615 033 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicole Donegan - Vice Chair & WOB COO | 0417 056 474 | email@example.com