Corporate Gender and Diversity Targets made Easy: one top CEO tells us how!


In a spectacular development for corporate Australia, the Board of one of the nation’s largest companies, and biggest employers, has announced the full achievement of the Australian Stock Exchange’s gender and diversity targets, literally overnight. This particular ASX top 200 company had been a frequent target for criticism, widely condemned for the composition of its Board, which had remained stubbornly all white, and all male, despite the longstanding diversity policy and program initiated by the ASX and strongly promoted by it.

XYZ has obtained access to confidential board minutes and other papers that confirm the stunning development, and was also able to secure an exclusive interview with the CEO of the Board concerned, who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, and in a curiously high pitched voice with the hint of a sub-continental accent:

imageXYZ: “Can you tell us how your Board came to transform itself, and achieve the ASX gender and diversity targets, literally overnight?”

Anonymous CEO: “It was after an especially long dinner following an especially short board meeting, and after a particularly pleasing brandy was served.”

XYZ: “What happened?”

Anonymous CEO: “One of our oldest and most experienced board members actually spoke, something he hadn’t done for many years. We all paid immediate attention of course. This gender and diversity thing had been on the agenda for years, years, and we hadn’t found a way to meet the targets, not even to start. He claimed to have the answer. We were all ears, I tell you, all ears.”

XYZ: “What had been preventing you implementing the gender and diversity policy?”

Anonymous CEO: “The little matter of merit just kept on presenting itself. But our esteemed senior member declared he knew a way forward, and it all came together right there and then, over the brandy and cigars in the Club lounge. Jolly marvellous, what!”

XYZ: “What was his plan and how was it achieved so quickly?”

Anonymous CEO: “Simple really. His plan was, in a nutshell, this – let’s just ask half the Board members to declare that, henceforth, they identify as female, and let David wear a skirt to the next meeting and insist on being called Diana, and so on – and let the other half, who are remaining notionally male, that is everyone else, insist on identifying as whatever ethnicity or cultural group takes their fancy, and there it is. Done.”

XYZ: “Brilliant. Do you think your senior member was inspired by anything in particular?”

Anonymous CEO: “The brandy…”

XYZ: “Anything else?”

Anonymous CEO: “The cigars perhaps.”

XYZ: “Thank you very much for your time Mr…”

Anonymous CEO: “Please don’t address me in a patronising way. I insist on being called Miss, and if you must use first names, you can call me Indira, especially when wearing this sari.”