‘Leadership Diversity Through Relational Intersectionality in Australia’: Key findings and recommendations

This four-year research project into how leadership is practised in the intersection of cultural and gender differences in three organisations known for their best practice in diversity and inclusion has now been completed.

The project investigated:

  • 3 Australian small to medium public and private organisations.
  • 69 key participants.
  • 4-9 months immersive ethnographic case studies.

Key findings included:

  • Differences become compartmentalised and stereotyped.
  • Intersectional relations are complex.
  • Relational Leadership can be positive and negative.
  • Diversity and Inclusion practices can entrench inequality.
  • Effective diversity management needs to focus on radical equality.

To genuinely and radically foster equality among a diverse workforce, leaders¸ Business and Management School educators and Diversity and Human Resource Management professionals need to:

  • Take responsibility and be accountable for change.
  • Consider inclusion and equity as an ongoing process that requires long-term vigilance.
  • Become advocates, seek advice and/or collaborate with diversity organisations and community groups.
  • Given the Australian context, understand First Nations history and the need to recognise the full contribution of indigenous employees.
  • Demonstrate a culture of safety and respectful interactions.
  • Champion the moral case for diversity and inclusion alongside, if not ahead, of the business and legal cases.
  • Question personal and organisational assumptions and consider the full consequences of actions and the systems that support them.
  • Introduce greater complexity to discussions about culture and critique of diversity categories and their intersection.
  • Replace strategies of inclusion that focus solely on staff identification with categories of difference, with strategies that provide greater opportunities for meaningful involvement and contribution at work.
  • Replace merit-based assessments for recruitment and promotion with assessments based on capacity and experience relative to opportunities.
  • Capture the organisation’s range of and changes in diversity, and how it is understood and valued.
  • Combine raising awareness about differences and celebrating diverse lived experiences with identifying and changing unfair or unequal practices and procedures.


Photo by Mitchell Luo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s