Business leaders unite on cultural diversity

Friday 11 August 2017

PwC Australia chief executive Luke Sayers, EY Oceania chief executive Tony Johnson, and Corrs Chambers Westgarth chief executive John Denton joined Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, Dr Tien Huynh from RMIT University and author Dr Ranjana Srivastava for a panel discussion on cultural diversity on 10 August 2017.

The event, compered by ABC Radio National presenter and journalist Patricia Karvelas, marked the Melbourne launch of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity.

“We established the Leadership Council to promote cultural diversity within Australian organisations,” said Dr Soutphommasane.

“Australia’s multiculturalism is a success. But we don't yet see our cultural diversity reflected in the senior leadership ranks of organisations. The Leadership Council will help identify ways to ensure we can get the most out of our cultural diversity.

“We know that progress on this requires leadership. The Leadership Council will provide some of that leadership,” Dr Soutphommasane said.

EY Oceania chief executive Tony Johnson said: “Cultural diversity drives diversity of thought and diversity of thought drives innovation.

“Progress on diversity is not just an equity issue, it’s essential to our success as a nation. Multiculturalism is an Australian success story and I’m committed to ensuring this is celebrated and embraced at every level of our organisation.

“The work we’re doing as a leadership council will help our nation benefit from culturally diverse leadership.”

PwC Australia chief executive Luke Sayers said cultural diversity was critical to the firm’s strategy.

He said PwC was the first professional services firm in Australia to implement targets, with 30 per cent of partner admissions by 2020 being people from a diverse cultural background.

“Leading a team of more than 7000 people, from 140 ethnicities, with up to 120 languages spoken, we want to attract and retain the best and brightest talent.

“To remain relevant, our workforce needs to reflect the diversity of the clients we serve and the markets we operate in. Diversity is essential to improving innovation and creativity in the way we solve problems and create solutions for our clients.”

Members of the Leadership Council include PwC’s Luke Sayers, Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s John Denton, University of Queensland vice-chancellor Professor Peter Hoj, EY’s Tony Johnson, Emotiv founder and chief executive Tan Le, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet Secretary Dr Martin Parkinson, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO Ian Narev.

Photo: Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane (left) with Dr Tien Huynh, EY Oceania CEO Tony Johnson, RN Drive presenter and MC Patricia Karvelas, Dr Ranjana Srivastava, Corrs CEO John Denton and PwC CEO Luke Sawyers.