Leadership Profile: Luke Sayers (CEO, PwC Australia)

Luke SayersWhat motivated you to join the Leadership Council?

Diversity is important to me not only personally, but also professionally. I lead a firm of more than 7,000 people, all from different cultures and backgrounds, and we are very focused on providing an inclusive environment for all our people.

It’s important to have a voice on social issues which impact our people, and the Leadership Council is raising important issues that affect our whole community. It also provides an opportunity to learn from what other organisations are doing to drive cultural diversity, as well as share what we are doing at PwC to create a diverse and inclusive culture.

What does success look like for the Leadership Council?

The Leadership Council has a role to play in raising important issues in the public debate and then bringing all sectors of business and government together to find solutions.

Success for the Council comes from employers across Australia sharing and adopting strategies to enhance cultural diversity in their workforce.

Have any of your personal experiences shaped how you think about diversity?

I have personal experience with diversity of a different kind and that’s disability, with one of my daughters having Down Syndrome. What I have learnt from her is that everyone has an enormous contribution to make if you are open to a different perspective and way of doings things. We focus on her abilities rather than her disabilities and she inspires me to do everything I can to help every individual who works for PwC to reach their full potential.

How, in your opinion, does Australia compare to other countries on the issue?

Australia is a multicultural society. In the last census, more than 300 languages were spoken in Australian households and 100 religions practiced. Our clients and the markets we operate in are becoming increasingly diverse through globalisation and technology. Cross-functional, multicultural and multi-geographical teams are now the norm.

To remain relevant, our workforce must reflect this globalised and diverse environment.

Diversity also drives new ideas and new ways of thinking which benefits our clients and creates a more dynamic and interesting place for our people to work.

What are the major obstacles to progress on cultural diversity?

Unfortunately, one of the biggest blockers is the unconscious bias we all carry with us where we make decisions without challenging some of our underlying assumptions. At PwC we have created an interactive learning experience called Open Minds, which provides our people with an introduction to the concept of unconscious bias, and strategies you can use to effectively reduce its impact.

Government and business need to work together to make sure that diversity is front of mind for our leaders and that strategies are implemented that filter down to the whole of society.

What does leadership mean for you?

Leadership is about being out in front, often where no one else has been. A good leader needs to have a clear vision and an end goal but you need to be adaptive in how you get there. It’s important to listen to your people and maintain an open, learning mindset.

Leadership is also about creating an environment that enables people to succeed and have a positive impact on society.

The culture and values of an organisation are paramount and they directly impact your success and ultimately your reputation.