Australia is home to a diverse group of cultures. The large proportion of migrants in Australia contributes to approximately a quarter of its population originating from over 300 ancestries. A noteworthy statistic is that over 20% of Australians speak another language after English at home, with the most common languages being Mandarin, Arabic, Italian and Vietnamese.
Data and studies show that the boardrooms of ASX200 are far from a true representation of our culturally diverse population. Women from culturally diverse backgrounds only contribute to less than 2% of all boardrooms in Australian companies. The lack of diversity in Australian boardrooms will be costly in the long run as a organizations look to build innovation, creativity and remain competitive across the global operating landscape.
The Cultural Diversity Working Group at Women on Boards has been launched to address just this conundrum – to advocate having more culturally diverse women on boards.
The group, which aims to address the evident lack of cultural diversity on Australian boards and in executive leadership teams, is led by Mahjabeen Zaman. The group comprises of female executives from multi-cultural backgrounds, with vast experiences in the corporate world as well as within boardrooms.
Women on Boards recognize that a diverse board benefits everyone. 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. Furthermore, cultural diversity offers the advantage of attracting and retaining global talent, allows critical, non-uniform thinking, and results in greater innovation and higher profitability.
Women on Boards also recognize that correcting the cultural diversity imbalance within our gender is also an important step toward achieving optimally functioning boards. Our Cultural Diversity Working Group will work toward addressing 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.
The Group’s strategy is defined by four key pillars.
- Connecting with diverse women in Australia, hear and tell their stories, barriers, struggles and successes
- Connecting and collaborating with bodies in Australia who act and promote cultural diversity, to enlarge the influence of our collective action and accelerate progress
- Collecting data pertaining to the percentage of representation of culturally diverse women in executive leadership and board roles in Australia
- Promotional activities to raise awareness of the lack of board diversity and understanding why diversity benefits organizations.
- Creating opportunities for culturally diverse women to connect, network and interact with decision makers, leading to leadership roles
- Creating a mentorship program promoting diverse women into leadership roles in Australia
- Work to break down organizational barriers to ensure that diverse women in Australia are presented with the same career opportunities as their peers Work closely with board members to address bias, develop tools to educate the workforce and to increase level of understanding of the benefits of cultural diversity
Read more about the Committee and our Culture Diversity Index here