A Royal Commission will not change culture

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In an Australian Financial Review (April 29th) article Anne Sherry former CEO of Carnival Australia and non–executive director suggested that a Royal Commission is not a good idea. A Royal Commission will not fix the culture challenges; her view is that corporations “need to do more to introduce diversity and shed male domination of their senior ranks”.

I support her contention that valuing and embracing gender diversity at executive and senior leader levels will contribute to addressing the cultural challenges confronting not just financial institutions but many organisations. Culture is the behaviour leaders within an organisation encourage, discourage, or tolerate, so that people form a view that this is the way we do things around here.

An interesting point to consider is, would the behaviours and actions that played out in some of the banks have occurred if there was a better gender balance at senior and board level? It will remain a point of conjecture.

Culture is shaped by the behaviours and actions of the leaders not by a Royal Commission.

Last week I gained an insight into just how true this is while visiting Uluru. This very large rock in the middle of Australia is the spiritual heartland for our first people. While visiting I spent the greater part of an afternoon with Leroy, an Anangu elder and story teller.

Through the stories he shared I came to understand the importance of the role culture plays in their societies and that core for his people is a culture of respect. First and foremost is respect for the land, what they produce from it and how it is managed. He and his people see themselves as the custodians: he was very clear that the land is entrusted to them; it’s never owned therefore the land must be respected otherwise there is nothing to hand on to those that follow, no legacy.

For land to be respected people have to be respected and need to learn respect. This learning is passed on through the stories told and other artefacts, all of which have shaped their culture. It’s been this way for thousands of years.

It started me thinking about what the impact would be if business leaders, and our politicians for that matter, behaved as custodians, encouraging respect for all that is entrusted to them and considering what needs to put in place for those that follow so that the long term future is assured.

Organisations don’t change, people do.


Viventé Australia enables leaders and managers to create the conditions that allow their people to do their best work every day thus creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its outcomes.    

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