Not a bumper sticker: How to get diversity and inclusion right

Diversity and inclusion is not a bumper sticker. This was the key message from proud Yorta Yorta women Claire Beattie speaking at a WOB panel discussion to mark UN World Day for Cultural Diversity.

Claire, a member of the WOB Cultural Diversity Committee, was joined in the discussion by AAP Board member Shirley Chowdhary and panel host, WOB Executive Director Claire Braund. Their insightful conversation covered issues such as why cultural diversity in board and leadership roles matter, and the issue of psychological and cultural safety.

“The most important word that I think of when I think of cultural safety is authenticity,” said Shirley. “Because the truth is that at the end of the day, every single one of us, regardless of where we come from or who we are or what our background is, we want to be able to take our authentic selves into the workplace.  And we don't want to have to change that according to who we are in a room with or who we're in a meeting with, or who's there that day.”

Claire talked about the need to recognise cultural safety as a real work health and safety issue. 

"WHS is something that's treated very, very seriously, particularly on work sites and in infrastructure where I work. But people don't understand that psychological damage and emotional damage and trauma is just as hurtful and if not ongoing, as if you fall down a pothole and you twist your ankle or something more serious. 

“So psychological safety and cultural safety go hand in hand. It's very important as leaders and as team members as workmates, that we understand that diversity inclusion is not a bumper sticker. It's not something that you just throw around and you think you've got it. There's a big difference between equity and equality as well.”

For those who missed the panel discussion, it is now available to watch on YouTube or listen to as a podcast here.

Tune in to listen to this insightful and real conversation, as the panel discusses:

  • The backgrounds and lived experiences of our guest
  • Why cultural diversity in board and leadership roles matters
  • What is cultural inclusion and psychological and cultural safety
  • How we can support culture & inclusion
  • Recognition that cultural diversity is challenging for many of us, and that we can be reluctant to ask questions because we feel ignorant....but that's okay if it's done in a respectful way.

About Shirley Chowdhary

Non-Executive Director, Advisory board member and Indigenous consultant.  Shirley is an internationally experienced board director with a diverse set of credentials across law, financial services, funds management, the NFP sector and journalism. Admitted as a lawyer in Australia and the State of New York, she has extensive cross-border experience across Asia. She is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, and has invested throughout her career to address these issues. This work was recognized when she was selected as one of the 2019 AFR 100 Women of Influence.

One of Shirley’s most recent executive roles includes being Chief Executive Officer for the GO Foundation, an Australian Indigenous organisation founded by Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin, providing holistic support and pathways for Indigenous students in Australia. 

Shirley now has a portfolio that supports organisations to build collaborative ecosystems connecting shareholder value with a deeper connection to impact and purpose. She believes fiercely in diversity and inclusion as tools for innovation. 

Shirley is currently a non-executive director for Australian Associated Press, Chair of the Advisory Board of Octadoc, and consults with a number of diverse organisations. Shirley is a keynote speaker and presenter for Saxton Speakers and her portfolio includes an extensive array of mentoring and volunteering.  Most recently Shirley has been appointed to the board of the Royal Australian Institute of 

About Claire Beattie

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. 

Watch the whole video here
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