'Dismal stats for a society that prides itself on diversity': Over 95% of leaders from Anglo-Celtic or European background

‘Dismal stats for a society that prides itself on diversity’: Over 95% of leaders from Anglo-Celtic or European background

The stats tell the story: the pipeline for cultural leadership in Australia is limited and expecting much to change with time is not good enough.

While we might pride ourselves on our diverse culture, there’s little diversity to applaud when it comes to the cultural makeup of those who hold the 2490 most senior leadership posts in Australia.

Of those, 95% have an Anglo-Celtic of European backgrounds, which doesn’t come anywhere close to reflecting our general population.

The Leading For Change report to be released by Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane (pictured above) today finds that 75.9 per cent of Australia’s most senior leaders have an Anglo-Celtic background, while 19 per cent have a European background.

Just 4.7 per cent have a non-European background and only 0.4 per cent have an Indigenous background.

The report finds just eight people from non Anglo-Celtic and non-European backgrounds are at the helm of ASX 200 listed organisations.

As the AHRC puts it, it’s a “enough to squeeze into a Tarago.”

Meanwhile, not one of the 30 members of the Federal Ministry has a non-European background, while just one has an Indigenous background.

In the public service, a massive 99 per cent of the heads of federal and state government departments have an Anglo-Celtic or European background, along with 38 of the 39 vice-chancellors of Australian universities.

The above figures come despite some serious efforts and calls for change in the past couple of years.

Today, Soutphommasane will further extend these calls to better ensure leadership in Australia reflects the population, after sharing the results of this latest report, an update from a similar report it issued in 2016. It’s published in partnership with the Committee for Sydney, Asia Society Australia and the University of Sydney Business School.

“These are dismal statistics for a society that prides itself on its multiculturalism. They challenge our egalitarian self-image,” he writes in the report. “And they challenge our future prosperity as a nation. If we aren’t making the most of our multicultural talents, we may be squandering opportunities.”

This lack of diversity will not fix itself in time.

And for as long as it continues, Australia is missing out on getting the most out of its people.

Numerous studies have found the direct benefits of leadership diversity on the bottom line. Earlier this year, a study of 1000 companies in 12 countries by McKinsey & Co found that those in the top quartile for diversity at the executive level are 21% more likely to be more profitable than their industry peers in the bottom diversity quartile.

Time to catch up Australia.

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