AALA Cultural Diversity Analysis Launch

On 14 April 2015, the AALA launched its report, “The Australian Legal Profession: a Snapshot of Asian Australian Diversity in 2015” at the Melbourne office of Baker & McKenzie.

The report contained research about the cultural backgrounds of lawyers, members of the Bar and the judiciary. President, Mr Reynah Tang, said that the report was a significant achievement for the AALA as the findings lent support to the previously expressed anecdotal view that although there is an increasing number of Asian Australian lawyers coming through law schools, this is not reflected in the senior echelons of the legal profession.

Mr Rudy Monteleone, the Director of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, was invited to speak at the launch. Multiculturalism, he said, plays an integral part of the Victorian economy and society but we may not be capitalising on this resource. Diversity can improve the bottom line in the private sector and in the public sector it can improve public value.

Mr Monteleone said that one reasons for this inequality may be unconscious bias. This is something we need to speak more of; we all have it whether we like it or not. This is because some people use stereotypes and prefer people like themselves. Mr Monteleone said that unconscious biases allow people to process information quickly and is necessary for survival but unconscious bias in business leads to missed opportunities.

Some of the ways of addressing this issue include: conducting structured interviews which provide transparency in hiring processes, holding people accountable for their decisions and setting targets which provide aspirational measures to meet. Mr Monteleone finished by urging that we need to harness the benefits of multiculturalism. If we look at every group of migrants that arrive in Australia, we will find similar stories of struggle and discrimination. The newly arrived tell the same story over and over. They come here on a promise that we are a fair and open society and we need to be accepting of their skills.

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