DCA’s ground-breaking research reveals the cultural origins of Australia’s business leaders - media alert

Media releases

According to the latest figures from the Australian Institute of Company Directors, we know that 16% of ASX 200 board members are women. But we don’t know anything about board members’ cultural backgrounds…until now.

In an Australian first, Diversity Council Australia’s new research, Capitalising on Culture: A Study of the Cultural Origins of ASX 200 Business Leaders, reveals the cultural origins of board members and senior executives in our major listed companies. Whilst it finds some encouraging breadth and depth in cultural diversity amongst business leaders, it also identifies some underrepresentation in key areas, especially when compared with the general population.

Some important findings include:

  • Some 22.2% of directors are ‘culturally diverse’ (referring to people from non-Anglo-Celtic cultural origins, i.e. European, Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Pacific Islander origins), 21.9% of CEOs, 19.9% of senior executives and 13.5% of chairs. This compares to 32.2% in the general Australian community;
  • When the narrower definition of ‘culturally diverse’ is adopted (i.e. excluding people from North West European cultural origins), the degree of culturally diverse business leaders drops by at least half. The proportion of culturally diverse directors falls to 11.3%, culturally diverse CEOs falls to 11.4%, culturally diverse chairs to 7.0% and culturally diverse senior executive positions to 9.7%. This compares to 24.3% in the general community;
  • Most culturally diverse directors have North West European cultural origins (10.9%);
  • The proportion of business leaders with Asian cultural origins is relatively low compared to the general community, especially given the importance of the Asian region to Australia’s future economic growth. Only 1.9% of executive managers and 4.15% of directors have Asian cultural origins (versus 9.6% in the general community).

Event Details

What: Launch of Capitalising on Culture: A Study of the Cultural Origins of ASX 200 Business Leaders

When: 4.00-6.30pm AEDT, Wednesday 23 October 2013

Where: PwC, Darling Park, 201 Sussex Street, Sydney

RSVP: Media are invited to attend and can register by emailing [email protected]

The event, proudly sponsored by PwC Australia, will be hosted by award-winning current affairs journalist, Ellen Fanning. It will feature a panel of leaders who will discuss what the findings mean for business and the wider community including: Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission; Paddy Carney, Assurance & Audit Partner at PwC Australia; Jenny McGregor, CEO Asialink; and Miranda Devine, columnist with The Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun.

Studies show executive and workforce cultural diversity is linked to increased innovation and creativity, market share and sales revenue, brand reputation and differentiation, and improved financial performance. Using specially designed software, DCA worked with OriginsInfo to analyse the personal and family names and company, occupation and gender of board members and senior executives of ASX 200 companies. The report recommends how organisations can better measure and capitalise on culture in executive ranks and the leadership pipeline, which will be especially important in the context of the ‘Asian Century’ and skill shortages.

Capitalising on Culture is a partnership research initiative between DCA, the federal government’s Australian Multicultural Council, and PwC Australia, the Australian Government and IBM Australia. For more information, see: http://dca.org.au/capitalisingonculture.