After the Culture Shock
DCA’s Capitalising on Culture Report created lively discussion around the diversity of Australian business leaders. On the surface, Origins analysis found an encouraging breadth of diversity amongst ASX200 directors and senior managers. But the group overall is a poor reflection of Australia’s historic migration trends.
Specifically, leaders of ASX200 companies do not appear to have undergone change reflective of the profound shift in Asian migration. Origins data reveals just 1.6% of senior managers and 3.2% of board members have an Asian cultural background. This compares with 8% of the wider Australian population. The proportion falls lower still if the Asian-domiciled businesses, SingTel and SP Ausnet, are excluded.
Business commentators and other observers have highlighted the OriginsInfo finding that Asian talent is under-represented. In the wake of these revelations, report sponsors PwC Australia announced a focus on developing Asian talent and cultural intelligence across the organisation. We asked Luke Sayers, CEO of PwC Australia his view on discussion points arising out of Capitalising on Culture. He told us:
“The Asia Pacific region, in particular, has immense significance for Australia’s future prosperity. As the vice chair of our Asia Pacific network, I frequently hear from executives in Asia that Australians have a lot to learn with regard to how we form business relationships, and how we engage in the region. The challenge is that within the Asian corridor, there are many different countries, each with their own unique cultures and ways of doing business. Having the language skills as well as cultural awareness for each of these countries in your workforce is a real competitive advantage when trying to do business across the region.”
This bears out the Case for Capitalising on Culture, in which DCA posit that greater diversity in the executive workforce is associated with the innovation, creativity and leadership that build robust brands, deliver market share and boost performance. Luke agrees:
“It’s critical that businesses’ leadership teams reflect the societies in which they operate. We live in an increasingly interconnected world, and Australian businesses must have the cultural intelligence to thrive in that environment. Having workforces and leadership teams with a deep understanding of and connection with different cultures is an essential step toward developing that cultural intelligence.”
Today, around one in four Australians has a cultural background that does not reflect a NW European origin. When OriginsInfo completed its broad analysis of ASX200 companies, it found that one in ten Australian business leaders is culturally diverse. Senior Asian position-holders were among the least represented of Australia’s population at large.
Luke Sayers believes Australian companies are serious about getting cultural diversity and Asian talent up the pipeline:
“This is something I hear Australian business leaders talking about more and more, which is very encouraging. I’m thrilled that we’re out and we’ve put some solid targets in the ground for PwC, and we’re trying to move the ball to those targets.”
DCA’s breakthrough piece of research has brought cultural diversity to the fore, along with its challenges and value. Capitalising on Culture equips businesses to take the first critical steps in ‘counting culture’ and leveraging its enormous potential benefits. Watch this space.