Posted: 03 May 2018 10 min. read

Mentors, role models and firm wide support

From local excellence to global insights we caught up with Dean Allright, Head of Legal, Information Technology and Intellectual Property, at ANZ, and one of our Outstanding 50 LGBTI Leaders of 2018. Across themes of visibility and collaborating with teams, Dean shared his stories, lessons and inspiration.

Visibility: how important is that topic to you?

When our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) attends Mardi Gras (which ANZ has been principle sponsor of for over a decade) and signs a letter in support of Marriage Equality and explains why he has done it in a note to all staff; when our Chairman stands firm against a shareholder at our Annual General Meeting questioning why ANZ has added its name to the list of businesses calling for Marriage Equality; when our CEO in New Zealand defends our involvement in the Pride celebrations in the face of threats from customers to take their business elsewhere; and when our Chief Risk Officer, who has dedicated countless hours of his time to the Pride Network, speaks publicly about the value of greater diversity in the workplace – it is tremendously affirming.

If you are working for an organisation that can’t accept your sexuality then I would question whether that’s really the organisation you want to work for.

What one key piece of advice would you give your 10 year old self today?

Don’t worry, be happy and enjoy the moment because “the past is history, the future is a mystery and the present is a gift.” It is one of my partner’s often repeated sayings and I like it a lot, even if I am still learning to live by it.

What has been your greatest lesson in your life and career?

Never take anything or anyone for granted – which for me encapsulates, amongst other things, the importance of hard work, gratitude, compassion, delivering on promises and taking time to reflect. So that is quite a lot covered by a simple statement.

What has been the biggest turning point in your career to date?

Securing my first legal role at Chapman Tripp and a place in the planning and environmental litigation team – a fantastic New Zealand law firm with amazing work and a genuine commitment to developing talent.

I was supervised by Joan Allin and John Hassan (both of whom went on to become Environment Court Judges) and mentored by Alistair Carruthers, the highly respected and openly gay CEO – career experiences that were invaluable.

Joan Allin sent my parents a whole stack of books on being a parent of a gay child and dealing with your child’s coming out which I thought was just incredible. Twenty odd years later, my parents still talk about the various people at work who had a pivotal role in helping me through that.

If you could drive one change in the business world of today, what would it be?

A genuine and universal commitment to, and prioritisation of, ethical and sustainable business practices and investment over and above the pursuit of continuous profit growth at any cost.

What more could be done around LGBTI visibility?

We are heading into 40 years of Mardi Gras and there are those who say that it’s irrelevant and no longer needed and I disagree. I think it’s that point of continuing visibility. We are very fortunate to have achieved much of what we needed and wanted but there are others in other parts of the world who don’t even have half of what we have – so the longer that we can continue to demonstrate that we are contributing members of society, the better. And I would like to call out the tail end of the LGBTI initialism – as you move further along the letters of the initialism, the more work that needs to continue to be done. We need to be champions for our transgender and intersex community members as well.

What’s your favourite song and why?

Handel’s Zadok the Priest – it is so powerful (especially at 100 dBA) and steeped in history and has invigorated me ahead of challenging moments throughout my life, from exams to job interviews.

 If you could invite three guests to a dinner party, who would they be?

Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing. There would be great coverage of artistic and scientific perspectives and

I would love both these trail blazers to know how their achievements and convictions are regarded today and how far LGBTI rights, computing and artificial intelligence have progressed. I think there is still a great deal to be learned from lives like theirs as well as a significant debt of gratitude to be paid. And, of course, with a guest list like that, my wonderful partner Ben, who I continue to learn from and who I also owe a great debt of gratitude.

Dean is one of our Outstanding 50 LGBTI Leaders of 2018 –  a list that recognises and celebrates the many LGBTI role models in business. For more on our inspirational LGBTI leaders visit our Outstanding 50 webpage, or read more interviews in the series here.

More about the author

Neil Glaser

Neil Glaser

Head of Editorial, The Agency, Deloitte

Neil is Head of Editorial in The Agency (Deloitte’s Creative Studio) and is passionate about words and the power of storytelling. He loves working in the creative heartbeat of an organisation to bring ideas to life through dynamic, engaging and cutting-edge content. As a creative professional with global expertise in London, New York and Sydney, he connects and unleashes ideas across a diversity of formats. He adores writing, strategy and design.