An Asian woman who chairs a corporate board has suggested anyone who hasn’t managed a diverse team doesn’t deserve to be chief executive.
Ming Long, the Malaysian-born chairwoman of AMP Capital Funds Management, told an ANZ podcast she would not approve of someone running a company unless they could prove they had previously led a multi-ethnic team.
‘You may end up, hopefully in an executive leadership position in an organisation like ANZ and you’ll start encountering directors like myself who will ask you: “Have you led diverse teams in your career? Because if you have not, then why would I ever put you in as CEO?”,’ she said.
Ms Long, who also chairs the Diversity Council of Australia, said managing diversity was a pre-requisite for being able to successfully run a big corporation – and argued being against racism in the workplace was no longer enough.
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Ming Long (second left), the Malaysian-born chairwoman of AMP Capital Funds Management, told an ANZ podcast she would not approve of someone running a company unless they could prove they had previously led a multi-ethnic team
‘Because an organisation like ANZ is big and complex and very different people in there and if you have not learnt to learn the skill of leading a diverse team, then unfortunately, you probably don’t have the right skills to be able to lead an organisation like ANZ.’
ANZ chief economist Richard Yetsenga, a white man who interviewed her for the podcast, agreed.
‘A hundred per cent,’ he said.
Ms Long also suggested a manager needed to not just be against racism but be an anti-racist, using a term from American Critical Race Theory based on the idea racism is systemic and embedded in society.
‘Being non-racist in Australia is now longer enough,’ she said.
‘We’ve tried to be not-racist but what we actually need in Australia is to be anti-racist and for people to stand up and to be against racism and actively work against racism, because what we’ve found is being non-racist is quite passive.
‘It doesn’t require any courage from you, it requires you not to step into the arena and be part of the conversation.’
The diversity advocate, who is also the first Asian woman to lead an S&P/ASX200-listed company, said it was harder for minorities to succeed in their careers.
Ming Long, who also chairs the Diversity Council of Australia, said managing diversity was a pre-requisite for being able to successfully run a big corporation – and argued being against racism in the workplace was no longer enough
‘That is the reality of life for so many racially-marginalised people in Australia,’ Ms Long said.
‘It has been harder for them and we actually have to do something.’
The accounting executive with a law degree said workplaces often favoured white stereotypes.
‘In Australia, what I would say is we live in a world in which whiteness – being Western, Anglo-Celtic – is the status quo and it is,’ she said.
‘It’s seen as normal and I think, subconsciously, we also then see that whiteness or western approach or Anglo-Celtic approach is superior to other racial identities or customs.’
The accounting executive with a law degree said workplaces often favoured white stereotypes (Ming Long is pictured second from the right with Diversity Council of Australia chief executive Lisa Annese, far left)
Ms Long argued race had been a factor in workplace promotions.
‘Consciously or unconsciously in our decision making, yes, we – even I – have been racist,’ she said.
She, however, cautioned against the idea that someone automatically deserved a promotion because they were from a minority group – suggesting diversity of demographics was more important than diversity of opinion.
‘It doesn’t matter how diverse you are, if your values don’t reconcile with the organisation, then that’s not diversity,’ she said.
‘Is it diversity to put a climate denier on the board?
‘Being a diverse individual does not automatically entitle you to leadership positions – I’ve seen some people assume that just because they’re diverse, and they’re different, that they’re entitled to be promoted but that’s never been the case.’