What's next for 'culturally and racially marginalized' women at work?

'Promising' project aims to solve workplace gender inequality

What's next for 'culturally and racially marginalized' women at work?

Groups advocating for workplace gender equality rejoiced over the Albanese Government’s investment in projects to increase opportunities for culturally and racially marginalized (CARM) women to move to workplace leadership roles.

In a media release, the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) CEO Lisa Annese commended the government’s recognition of solving workplace gender inequality, noting that struggles of marginalization are often augmented by several barriers and systemic inequalities, including gender and racism.

Recently, HRD reported that a recent survey showed that of 28 CEO appointments in specific companies, only four were women, citing the need for efforts to promote workplace gender equality as women are still in a significantly lower number of leadership roles than men.

Now that the government has made its long-awaited move, what does this ultimately mean for CARM women?

Barriers faced by CARM women

A 2022 Chief Executive Women (CEW) Senior Executive Census showed that development for women in senior roles in Australia’s ASX300 companies has slowed, with only 18 women in CEO positions in the ASX300.

While the Census did not report on the representation of CARM women, DCA noted that women in culturally and racially marginalized backgrounds have essentially lower representation in leadership roles, not only in the ASX but across all companies in the country.

“For too long, women’s leadership programs have been designed in a one-size-fits-all way that doesn’t take into account the different experiences that different women have,” Annese said.

In the DCA’s media release, Violet Roumeliotis, CEO of Settlement Services International (SSI), also expressed her dismay at the alarming racial ceiling phenomenon, which she said “creates additional barriers for refugee and migrant women to achieve career goals.”

Intersectional approach

Following the barriers faced by CARM women, the DCA said that together with the SSI and CEW, they received funding under the Women’s Leadership and Development Program for a project to resolve the obstacles restricting CARM women’s progress into leadership roles in Australia.

DCA further noted that what makes the project unique is its intersectional approach and design to “realistically help” CARM women.

“This funding means that we can design a program that is led by and informed by culturally and racially marginalised women to understand what exactly the systemic barriers stopping them from entering executive and key decision-making roles in Australian organisations are,” Annese said.

“We are working directly with 375 culturally and racially marginalised women to simultaneously build their leadership capability, while at the same time providing evidence-based training to 25 national organisations to ensure that the systemic barriers locking culturally and racially marginalised women out of leadership in Australian businesses are removed and that the program can be sustained,” she added.

The project, which aims to accelerate the progression of women into leadership roles, will be led by the DCA, working closely with its partners SSI and CEW over the next three years.

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