The story behind Outstanding LGBTI Executives

Last week AFR BOSS Magazine published an Australian First – Outstanding 50 LGBTI Executives.

As a nation it is important to acknowledge the significance of this milestone, but we also need to recognise that in many ways, we are on a journey with a long way to go.

When our National Partner for People and Performance, Alec Bashinsky, told me about one of our young tax professionals and his side-project of compiling a list of Australian LGBTI executives – it piqued my interest.

It turned out 25 year old Andrew Cumberlidge, who’d lived and worked in the UK then finished college and started working for Deloitte in California, had already received agreement from more than half of the executives named in the list – including Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Cindy Hook with Andrew Cumberlidge, Deloitte Australia
Cindy Hook with Andrew Cumberlidge, Deloitte Australia

It was at this stage, I became excited. This idea had the potential to make a real impact that matters.

As a CEO there are so many initiatives and projects one can get behind. So why this one? Andrew’s idea aligned directly with the culture of inclusion that I’m passionate about – a culture that we are building within our firm – where every person is valued for the contribution they make regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or any other form of diversity.

An inclusive culture is core to the execution of our business strategies.

Speaking to the wider societal issue, I believe business needs to take a lead on this. This list of role models will have an untold positive flow on effect that will help shift the national discussion on LGBTI equality.

As I have said many times, being inclusive is not only the right thing to do, it makes business sense. When our people feel comfortable to be their authentic selves at work, they feel included and they’re happier, more efficient and productive. At Deloitte we’re continually seeking to shape an inclusive culture and it’s up to all of us to provide a working environment that allows everyone to achieve their full potential, regardless of gender, cultural background, sexual orientation or gender identity.

What matters most to me is the contribution our people make to our firm and to our clients.

This is a great day for our continued commitment to diversity and inclusion. I am proud of the role Andrew and Deloitte played in researching and collating this list of Australia’s 50 outstanding LGBTI leaders.

Each one of these people has achieved success, in many cases against tough odds. They have my congratulations and respect for their courage in stepping forward.  Having met a number of these individuals recently – I know it wasn’t an easy decision for many of them.

Thanks also go out to Jo Gray and the team at AFR BOSS Magazine, for their willingness to run with this and their enthusiasm in embracing the project.

I must also thank all of the team and those who worked side by side with Andrew on this project, without whom the list you see today would not have been possible.

I hope that these courageous leaders will set an example for other organisations and that we will continue to move this country forward.

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