Financial Planning - Couple getting consulted
Financial Planning - Couple getting consulted Jacob Wackerhausen

Leadership roles lacking diversity: report

MORE than a third of the Australian population has a non Anglo-Celtic background but a diversity report has highlighted most people in top chief executive roles in Australia have an Anglo-Celtic background.

The Leading for Change report - a blueprint launched Friday to try to kickstart change - said about 32% of the Australian population had a non Anglo-Celtic background and 20% of people spoke a language other than English at home.

But it said cultural diversity was not proportionately represented in senior leadership.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said across business, politics, government and civil society, no more than 5% of leadership positions were held by people from non-European cultural backgrounds.

"This begs some questions about unconscious bias and institutional barriers to equal opportunity," he said.

A breakdown showed about 79% of leaders in Federal Parliament were Anglo-Celtic, while 16% were European. About 4% were non-European and 2% were indigenous.

In universities, 85% of vice chancellors are Anglo-Celtic and 15% are European. There are no non-European or indigenous vice chancellors.

"In our multicultural society, why don't we see more diversity among our leaders? Do we have leadership that is fit for today's Australia?" Dr Soutphommasane said.

The report said cultural diversity needed to be embedded into an organisation's goals, strategies and performance in order to generate lasting change.

"Holding up a mirror to ourselves isn't easy," Dr Soutphommasane said. "We don't always do well with self-examination. But improvement never comes without accepting that we can do better."

To increase cultural diversity at senior levels, the report - Leading for Change: A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership - recommended strategies, including stronger leadership, better data collection, the use of diversity targets and improved training.

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