Harmony Day: a reminder of the importance of cultural diversity

By Michelle Bowes
Insights Editor Sydney, Australia

March 21 is Harmony Day in Australia and it’s the UN’s International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It’s an important time at AMP Capital as it celebrates what we strive to be as an organisation.

Harmony Week reinforces the importance of inclusiveness and Manroop Singh, Portfolio Analyst, Global Fixed Income, AMP Capital says cultural diversity is an essential pillar in creating an inclusive environment and a workplace that unlocks the true potential of every employee.

“Our various backgrounds and journeys provide each of us with a unique cognitive process that once combined creates incredibly powerful diversity of thought for the business” he says. “It is integral in ensuring a sense of acceptance and comfort which allows for each individual to freely express their thoughts without any hesitation or reservation.”

Singh cites fascinating figures that show just how diverse Australia is as a society today.

In a country of 25 million people, 49 per cent were either born overseas (first generation) or have at least one parent born overseas and nearly 21 per cent of us speak a language other than English at home.

Ming Long, Independent Chair, AMP Capital Funds Management explains that diversity is more than just an internal issue; every business now has a customer base that reflects the diversity present in Australian society. “We manage money for a diverse customer base and we need to understand their struggles, challenges and goals.”

Unfortunately, however, those from non-Anglo Saxon backgrounds have, at times, had to overcome serious disadvantage to get to where they are today.

Talal Yassine (OAM), Managing Director of Crescent Wealth, explains he was fortunate to be given a break early on by people who are still mentors today.

“They helped build me up and get a job at a law firm, where I moved through the ranks. I came from what other senior executives may have considered the wrong side of the bridge, the wrong religion and wrong political affiliations. I was wrong in every way. But in Australia you can still get ahead if you are committed enough, and that helped me progress,” he said.

Yassine stresses, however, there are more opportunities for all of us to be visible in supporting cultural diversity and to make it a business priority. It must be leader-led from the top otherwise potentially the wrong signal is sent.

“My people are my most important asset, but they are not on the balance sheet. My tribe is my staff and at least 50 per cent are born overseas. So diversity is important to me as a leader – it’s not an extra. It’s a critical issue on so many levels.”

Commenting on his decade-plus tenure at AMP Capital, Ali Mehfooz, Global Head of Fund Services, said being at work is one of the places he feels most safe. “Everyone in the business should understand they play a very important role in helping us to feel safe.”

In light of last week’s Christchurch’s tragedy, we have never had a more pressing need for our community to have a sense of humanity, compassion and understanding.

An important message on Harmony Day.

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Important notes

While every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) and AMP Capital Funds Management Limited (ABN 15 159 557 721, AFSL 426455)  (AMP Capital) makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in it including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. This article has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this article, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. This article is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided and must not be provided to any other person or entity without the express written consent of AMP Capital.

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