On 11 April 2018, the Australian Human Rights Commission released it report on cultural diversity. According to the report, the Australian population comprises 58% Anglo-Celtic, 21% Non-European (including Asian, Africans, Middle Eastern, Latin American), 18% European, and 3% Indigenous. However, Australians of Anglo-Celtic and European backgrounds continue to dominate the senior leadership roles in Australian public and private organisations by as much as 97%. Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane has rightly pointed out, “It also challenges Australia as a nation whose prosperity relies upon international trade, capital inflows and mobility of people.” Needless to say, if you don’t look like the Anglo-Celtics or the Europeans, your chances of reaching to the top in Australia are pretty slim.
Research into diversity tells a different story. There is a business case for cultural diversity. Culturally diverse leaders can bring in international experience, alternative perspectives, and skills that can complement the skills of the dominant population group. But breaking the glass ceiling is not an easy task. Corporations choose their leaders through networks and informal processes. When you look different and talk differently, it might be difficult to get into those “inner” networks.