Culturally and Racially Marginalised Women in Leadership: report


Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), 07 Mar 2023

This ground-breaking new report re-examines the state of play for culturally and racially marginalised (CARM) women in leadership, focusing on how the intersections of two key marginalising characteristics – race and gender – are still operating in workplaces to lock CARM women out of leadership.

The research, conducted by a team of CARM women, involved DCA conducing surveys and focus groups with more than 370 CARM women, as well as a review of industry and academic research, to gain insights into the challenges faced by these women in the workplace.

Findings include:

CARM women are ambitious, capable and resilient:

  • 97% of CARM women we surveyed said they had valuable contributions to make to their organisation
  • 78% wanted to advance to senior leadership

CARM women experience compounding impacts of both sexism and racism at work:

  • 66% of the women said they felt they had to “act white” to get ahead.
  • 75% reported that others assumed they worked in a lower status job than they did and treated them as such.
  • 85% felt they had to work twice as hard as employees who weren’t CARM women to get the same treatment or evaluation.

CARM women reported high levels of negative workplace experiences like being under-estimated, ignored, harassed, and excluded from networks that help people get ahead.

The report outlines an evidence-based framework for organisations, identifying the locks and the keys for CARM women and leadership and offers employers ways to be more inclusive of CARM women and diversify leadership teams.

Lisa Annese, CEO, Diversity Council Australia said:

“We have deliberately shifted away from using the term ‘culturally and linguistically diverse’ in this research, instead using the term ‘culturally and racially marginalised’ (CARM) which recognises the significance of race and racism in the lives of the women we spoke to. We know this will be challenging for some people.

“But we also know that if we want to effectively address issues of racism in workplaces, we have to use language that specifically addresses it.

“These findings and our recommendations offer a great opportunity for employers across our country and economy to check how they are embracing and including all women and how we can be better – for the benefit of all.”


Diversity Council Australia (V. Mapedzahama, F. Laffernis, A. Barhoum, and J. O’Leary). Culturally and racially marginalised women in leadership: A framework for (intersectional) organisational action, Diversity Council Australia, 2023



By J Pope

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