WOB established the Cultural Diversity Committee in 2020 with the aim of addressing barriers to leadership, board and committee roles for culturally diverse women. Both Marcella and Ivette stepped down from the committee in November.
Speaking to WOB as part of our new Culturally Speaking interview series with our Cultural Diversity Committee members, Marcella and Ivette share their motivations for joining the committee, their proudest achievements while working as part of the group, their advice to other organisations looking to address lack of cultural diversity and also their plans for the future.
Marcella said one of her proudest achievements on the committee was developing the first Counting Culture Survey “to establish who exactly are the members of WOB”.
“I drove the development of the strategic plan and was highly impressed by all the wonderful CALD women leaders who expressed interest in the CDC when I ran the recruitment process for new CDC members,” said Marcella. “I was so happy when we managed to recruit two First Nations women to the board.”
She said her biggest advice to other organisations is for leaders to take time to find out about the backgrounds of their staff. “Many organisations have no idea of the scope of talent they possess already - it is really underutilised. They have no idea what diversity is among their staff that could be leveraged for more diverse thinking and strategy development. I would suggest executive leaders take time to find out the backgrounds of staff; ask how they can be better involved; and recruit more people who are not like them to further increase diverse thinking in the organisation.”
As an Australian/Latin American woman born in El Salvador, Ivette Guerra said having more representation of women of different backgrounds into leadership positions, in particular migrant women and women who were not born in Australia, was one of the main motivations for her joining the CDC.
“We have experienced the world differently and can bring knowledge and perspective that other people born and bred in Australia don’t have. I also don’t like tokenism and I didn’t feel I could stand up and talk about diversity without doing more. Being part of the CDC with people that were ready to create change gave me this opportunity,” she said.
She said she is proud of being the only committee member based in Queensland and that a highlight was her interview with Joshua Chikuse. “My conversation with Joshua on and off camera was one of the highlights of my time at CDC. It was challenging, honest, inspirational, and fun.”
Read Marcella’s Culturally Speaking interview HERE
Read Ivette’s Culturally Speaking interview HERE