MPA worked in close collaboration with Diversity Council Australia to provide valuable input into the lived experience of Muslim women accessing leadership roles in Australia. This input was used to produce a report that draws on insights from culturally diverse female leaders to understand why so few culturally diverse females reach leadership positions and what Australian organisations can do better to recognise the skills and ambitions of culturally diverse female talent.
In Australia and overseas, culturally diverse women experience a ‘double jeopardy’ when accessing leadership roles due to their gender and cultural background. This double jeopardy results in a ‘glass-cultural ceiling’ in which invisible organisational barriers lock out culturally diverse women from accessing leadership positions in their workplaces.
Bias, racist and sexist comments and offensive “jokes” are rife in corporate Australia. Stereotypes about Muslim women result in them being written off as leadership material,” a respondent said. “They see a hijab and think I must be subjugated and I’m submissive and passive and therefore not able to lead.”
The report found that, while 88 per cent of culturally diverse female talent surveyed planned to advance to a very senior role, only one in 10 strongly agreed that their leadership traits were recognised or that their opinions were valued and respected.
Further, 26 per cent said cultural barriers in the workplace had caused them to scale back at work, including reducing their ambitions and working fewer hours.
Female ASX leaders with non-Anglo-Celtic cultural origins make up:
• 15 of all 1482 chief executives
• 44 of all 2327 senior executives
• 188 of all 7491 directors
• 55 of all 1350 chief financial officers.