Dr Dimitria Groutsis, author of the Beyond the Pale report, has researched cultural diversity in the workplace.
In her research, she found how culturally diverse people could break the cement ceiling. In response to interviews with 18 non-executive directors and chairs of boards and nine representatives from premier executive search firms. Groutsis constructed a suite of seven strategies to progress the conversation on cultural diversity on Australian boards.
Strategy 1 Activate supply by developing culturally diverse leaders in the executive team. Build a clear career trajectory for culturally diverse talent. Monitor critical drop-off points in the career trajectory and intervene to avoid exit points. Build a culturally diverse executive team and pipeline to the executive level.
Strategy 2 Break the ‘closed circuit’ pathway. Pathways to board membership remain difficult to navigate without the right information, networks, mentors and know-how.
Strategy 3 Challenge the assimilationist approach to board ‘cultural fit’. Listen to and include diverse opinions and make this a point of board differentiation.
Strategy 4 Build trust and visibility through genuinely inclusive networks. Current network arrangements in corporate Australia remain the almost exclusive preserve of white, (predominantly) male privilege and as such reinforce and reproduce exclusionary barriers.
Strategy 5 Design campaigns which champion change through leader-led ambassadors Successful change campaigns provide crucial insights to systemic and perceptual transformation.
Strategy 6 Make cultural background and cultural diversity part of the narrative. There is a tendency to discuss a ‘global mindset’, ‘cultural awareness’ and ‘cultural diversity’ as being the same thing and use these terms interchangeably as evidence of cultural diversity on boards
Strategy 7 Measure, report and act on cultural diversity. There are currently no reporting mechanisms for cultural diversity on boards. A lack of measuring, tracking and reporting on cultural diversity negatively impacts good governance practices.