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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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Harmony Day

Article by: Stephen Chang, Chair, ACC Australia Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Special Interest Group

Stephan Chang

It is Harmony Week this week where we celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity. It is about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. But is there a place for culturally diverse leaders?

There is solid research that companies with a culturally diverse senior leadership team, with their different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds, are more likely to achieve greater innovation and financial outperformance.

In Australia, about half of us were either born overseas or have a parent who was, and we identify with around 300 cultural groups. However, around 95 per cent of senior leaders have an Anglo-Celtic or European background. From the remaining 5 per cent, Indigenous leaders make up not much more than the current RBA cash rate.  

It is a similar story in the legal profession. At a recent diversity survey of top law firms, while around a quarter of new graduates were of an Asian background, the numbers dwindled to less than one in twelve at partner level. Compared to gender equality, cultural diversity at a leadership level is far behind – and more so for culturally diverse women. More needs to be done in the workplace, and not just at the fringe, to bring about change.

So let’s make #harmonyweek more than a token appreciation of diverse cultures where we organise a lunch with culturally diverse foods and a parade of culturally diverse dresses. Have a look at cultural diversity at your workplace. Does it have a cultural diversity policy? Does it really value it and live it? Then take a look at your senior leadership team – is it still too ‘pale, male and stale’?  

We, as in-house counsel, are in a position of influence in our respective workplaces advising senior leaders on various issues – legal and non-legal. So why not also be the trusted advisor and influence the senior leadership team on its makeup and the diversity strategy of your company? The business case is solid.   

Let’s make our organisations a place where culturally diverse leaders do belong. #everyonebelongs

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ACC Australia is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive in-house profession and has created the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) Special Interest Group. If you are interested in participating in the special interest group or contributing ideas, please contact


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