When Siya Kolisi led the South African rugby team to a 42-39 win this weekend against England, it was a significant achievement. That a black South African should lead this team would have been remarkable a few years ago. However, Kolisi, by far and away the best man for the job, deserved the captains arm band.
Jean De Villiers, who led South Africa 37 times says that:
‘this is not a token appointment. He is the natural choice.’
There’s been other good news on race equality:
‘In one joyous day, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex cracked a problem that employers have been grappling with for years. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding - from its multi-cultural guest list to an African-American bishop’s sermon touching on Martin Luther King and slavery - was a world away from previous royal occasions.’ (‘Financial Times’ 31st May 2018).
So, what about the workplace?
Race equality in the workplace is becoming an even more important issue. It’s common knowledge that diverse teams achieve more:
A much-quoted 2015 study by Mckinsey found a significant relationship between ethnically diverse leadership and work teams and increased financial performance
Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians
McKinsey’s findings indicate that the correlation between ethnic diversity and profitability are even higher than that between gender diversity and profitability.
Sadly, it looks like Australian organisations haven’t read the Mckinsey study...
A report released by Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner in May 2018, ‘Leading for Change’, found a staggering 75.9% of senior leaders in Australian business are from an Anglo-Celtic background, with just 4.7% from a non-European background and only 0.4% from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.
These are dismal statistics for a society that prides itself on multiculturalism.
The report concludes that ‘It challenges Australia’s egalitarian self-image. It also challenges Australia as a nation whose prosperity relies upon international trade, capital inflows and mobility of people.’
There’s much more work needed in the areas of:
Leadership (but how can one be optimistic that things will change with such limited racial diversity in senior leadership positions?)
Culture (promoting initiatives with people from different cultures, training and addressing bias) and
Reporting (better data, targets and making people accountable for cultural inclusion in organisations).
Every company needs to do more. We decided that, at EGM, not only can we help but we have a duty to make employers aware of brilliant indigenous talent - so launched our indijobs initiative.
What is your organisation doing to promote multiculturalism and tackle racial discrimination?