Researching intersectional diversity in leadership

Leadership Diversity Through Relational Intersectionality in Australia was a research project conducted between 2018 and 2022 by Carl Rhodes, Alison Pullen and Celina McEwen. It investigated the relationships between people in organisations and how they are affected by different forms of workplace diversity.

This project examined the relationships between those who are defined as leaders (either by themselves or by the organizations in which they work) and those individuals with whom they work. The project developed a politically relevant and theoretically informed approach to leadership as it is practised at the intersection of the racial, gender and class differences that characterise the relationships between leaders and followers.

Much of the research and thinking that informs leadership training, education and practice arises from North America and focuses on narrow leadership stereotypes. These stereotypes come from research focusing on male leaders, and or examine women leaders as a ‘special case’. This is too simple and shows a lack of real appreciation for the range of leadership practices that exist in real life.

The project was based on the premise that leadership that reflects Australia’s diversity is vital for social justice and effective people management in Australian workplaces. We investigated what diversity of leadership means in practice in Australian organizations. With this knowledge, we can improve leadership performance, create more inclusive workplaces, and strengthen social cohesion in Australia’s multicultural society.

Our project was conducted in partnership with select Australian organisations.

The project has now been completed. Read our blogposts for  more information about project activities and the final report released in January 2023.

This research was supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council’Discovery Projects funding scheme [DP180100360]. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Australian Government or Australian Research Council.


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Banner photo by Sergei Akulich on Unsplash