Updated: Sep 15
A sold-out event on 13 November, moderated by UNAAWA Vice-President Dr. Sandy Chong on the Future of Board Leadership, over 80 attendees enjoyed insights on diversity for board leadership from a fantastic range of speakers: John Carey MLA (Member for Perth), Tony Chong (WA Chinese Chamber of Commerce VP), Nicole Jenkins (Chair of disability organisation Intelife Group), Fadzi Whande (Diversity & inclusion advocate) and Chris West (WA Super fund manager).
John Carey MLA introduced the forum and its goals, addressing the relevance of diversity in politics and parliament as an essential key aspiration, and highlighting that the members of parliament should reflect the diversity of the community, and that diversity of membership creates better policy and better outcomes.
The Chair of the Business & Sustainability Forum Series, Dr Sandy Chong, emphasised the importance of the SDGs in the business sector, and introduced the panel members describing their work and relevance to diversity in board membership.
The panel discussed critical subjects around board diversity, its importance and the challenges being faced, highlighting that cognitive diversity avoids bias, group thinking and herding behaviour in decision-making, and that currently there is a tendency for existing board members to select based on pre-existing relationships, confirmation bias and “othering”. The panel also discussed the research confirming the benefits to society flowing from diversity, how systematic challenges can be overcome, and the importance of changing the status quo to drive change.
Opening up to the floor for questions, the panel discussed skills needed to become part of a board, fostering environments where members of CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities feel respected and welcomed, and ensuring that young people can also share their voices in tech or innovation space.
Most attendees responded with passion and enthusiasm with the event. Samantha Bowen, Board Member for the National Institute for Dementia Research, who works with both youth and aged population thought that it was a great panel. “Loved the insights everyone shared.
The panel showed how the dominant stereotypes or groups can be a strong advocate for system change. Well done!”. Amna Omerhodzic, an architect of a local firm shared that the panel discussion was a real eye-opener for her,”From now on I will be viewing the ideas of diversity and inclusion quite differently at work and within the committees which I am on”. Rachel Krynski, a member of the UNAAWA, and director of local small business, Rethink Plastic Australia & Supplier Connections Pty Ltd, expressed interest in wanting to know more about how to implement the SDGs and how to demonstrate the measures and impacts of inclusion to clients and workforce.