Cultural Diversity and Leadership

Australia is an emphatically multicultural society. Almost half of the Australian population either was born overseas, or has a parent who was born overseas.

Few countries can boast to have enjoyed our multicultural success. Yet it is striking that among our leaders today, in various spheres, we are yet to see our multicultural character being reflected. Why don’t we see more diversity among our leaders? Do we have leadership that is fit for today’s Australia?

Recent years have seen some significant gains in diversity. But it is time to have a more specific conversation about cultural diversity. Prominent senior leadership on this is necessary if progress is to be made.

In 2016, a working group led by the Race Discrimination Commissioner released Leading for Change: A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership.

The Leading for Change report found that:

  • the ethnic and cultural default of leadership remains Anglo-Celtic;
  • Australian society may not be making the most of its diverse backgrounds and talents; and
  • a more diverse workforce makes for better decision-making.

Leading for Change proposed actions with respect to leadership, systems and culture. This included guidance on senior leadership having ‘skin in the game’, measuring cultural diversity, strengthening accountability through targets, dealing with bias and discrimination, and enhancing professional development for culturally diverse talent.

Leading for change:


Leading for Change: A blueprint for cultural diversity and inclusive leadership


The Leadership Council will be holding regular activities and events in 2017 and beyond. The Council will also be looking for partners and contributors to join with.