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Human Resources

DCA leads charge to elevate marginalised women in workplace leadership

Health Industry Hub | April 22, 2024 |

Human Resources: Diversity Council Australia (DCA) is presenting organisations with an opportunity to lead the charge in advancing workplace diversity and inclusion for culturally and racially marginalised (CARM) women who persistently face barriers to accessing senior leadership roles.

The RISE Project (Realise. Inspire. Support. Energise.) empowers organisations to enact tangible transformations for CARM women in the workplace, following a pivotal DCA report revealing intersectional barriers restricting CARM women from rising into executive and key decision-making roles. The RISE project was launched in January 2024 and has since onboarded six organisations including Telstra and HCF.

“DCA’s CARM Women in Leadership report found that despite being well positioned to contribute to their own and their organisation’s success, CARM women continue to be scarce across senior leadership positions in Australia,” said DCA CEO Lisa Annese.

Minister Gallagher previously emphasised the government’s keen focus on helping women from diverse backgrounds to achieve their leadership goals.

“We know that there are greater barriers faced in the workforce by First Nations women, women with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse women. These projects will contribute to the broader efforts required to address these barriers, alongside efforts to close the gender pay gap and ensure women’s economic equality,” she stated.

DCA’s report Culturally and racially marginalised women in leadership: A framework for (intersectional) action shows the representation of CARM women in leadership in Australia remains scarce, despite the clear business case where companies in the top quartile of racial diversity in leadership are 33% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median, while for gender diversity, the figure is 21%.

Women on Boards conducted an audit of the boards of 232 organisations and found that while women comprised 46% of board directors across the sectors, culturally diverse women (women with non-Anglo Celtic origins) accounted for 12.8%.

DCA is now calling for organisations to join the second and final cohort of the RISE project, after witnessing significant progress and positive outcomes in both the pilot and phase one cohorts.

“Through the RISE program we were able to identify barriers for racially marginalised women that weren’t previously called out in our race action plan or anti-racism work,” said Abbie Wright, Associate – Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Arup.

“I was pleasantly surprised, most people think such programs are ‘One Size Fits All’ – elevating a person in the organisation for the benefit of the organisation- but [the RISE project has] demonstrated understanding and support for the individual CARM Woman, listening to her and supporting her personal journey,” said another participant.

Participating organisations will utilise an innovative Australian-first self-audit tool to evaluate their racial literacy, informing the development of a customised 12-month action plan integrated with targeted training. Moreover, they will benefit from unparalleled support tailored to their unique requirements, including access to a community of practice and expert guidance, enabling them to make significant advancements within their existing Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiatives.

“By participating in RISE, your organisation will reap the benefits of recognition as a leader in identifying and removing systemic barriers for CARM women – and the invaluable chance to drive significant change to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all.”

Applications close on Friday, 26 April 2024. For more information email rise@dca.org.au.

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