Our Leadership Awards give us so much pride. It is an incredible opportunity to uncover and celebrate emerging female talent and to recognise and applaud the efforts of seasoned female leaders.
This year was no different but there is an important caveat.
We had a diverse group of finalists and we had a diverse group of judges and yet we had a cohort of winners who were not diverse.
Like all of the finalists acknowledged the winners are incredibly accomplished women, each of whom has demonstrated terrific leadership potential in the careers they have forged.
But, collectively our group of winners did not reflect the diversity of our finalists or the diversity of our community and it isn’t good enough. We accept that.
We are an independent media organisation made up of a very small team of individuals who are passionate and dogged about diversity and inclusion and we recognise that we have made a mistake.
We live and breathe diversity, not because we think we should but because we genuinely believe in it, and as soon as we realised that our winners – each of whom were picked by small panels of judges – were decidedly homogenous we were alive to the fact we had a problem. How could we not see it? How could we not own it?
We see it, and we own it. It’s not good enough. We are sorry.
Next year we will make changes to the judging process and introduce an oversight committee to ensure that there is greater diversity in the individuals that are recognised and celebrated.
Shirley Chowdhary, the CEO of the Go Foundation and a WALA 2018 Judge, acknowledged the need to continually evaluate selection processes.
“We need to constantly challenge ourselves to look at leadership in a variety of cultural contexts and to incorporate those views of leadership into the stereotypes we have grown up with,” Chowdhary said. “The Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards are a young awards and I have no doubt that the processes for selection (and for self-nomination which perhaps limit women of intersectionality) will continue to evolve and improve, as our own views of leadership do the same. I want to congratulate all winners and finalists – all finalists represented leadership, strength, determination, persistence and courage and we should continue to celebrate women for these traits whilst challenging ourselves to adapt our views of leadership to be as inclusive as possible.”
We do not want this apology to detract from the achievements of the women recognised as the 2018 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards but nor could it be left unsaid.
We will continue to strive to ensure the Women’s Agenda community remains as diverse and inclusive as possible in every single endeavour.
Angela Priestley, Georgie Dent & Tarla Lambert