Deloitte and Google are incredibly proud to bring you our Outstanding 50 LGBTI Leaders of 2018.
Across diverse industries, these individuals show how passion, energy, resilience, visibility, courage – and above all, leading as your true self – can drive a successful career. These remarkable individuals are changing perceptions and creating more inclusive workplaces and communities. We hope you enjoy finding out more about our 50 leaders and that they give you the confidence to just be you.
Ready to be inspired? Read on.
"I don't believe in burning a village unless you are prepared to rebuild it."
Feyi is one of the country's most sought-after strategic communication consultants. Feyi leads a team of experts in digital disruption and public affairs. She is a former Pride Board Member (Sydney), involved in Rainbow Labor and sits on the Board of Australians for Equality.
Greatest role model: Joan Kirner – she taught me that each individual can make a difference if you are prepared to work hard, be decent and leave no opportunity unexplored. Also that 'asking' permission rarely gets an outcome, best to just do it and 'apologise' after.
Career advice: You determine your own fate. Don't assume anybody is really all that focused on you and what you are doing in your personal life. Everyone is the star of their own drama. Take every opportunity you can to try new things, seize opportunities and spend time with the smart people. Looks fade, smarts last forever!
Motivations: Working on interesting things that make a difference. You are going to spend A LOT of time at work – it's more fun if it's with smart people, doing interesting things, in a positive environment – enjoy it.
Changing perceptions: Proactive engagement or good old fashioned 'stepping up', speaking up, be out, don't accept the 'this is how we've always done it' position, using data to show the case not just accept 'established fact' as fact. I'm not a great joiner, but I will join organisations/campaigns that reflect a critical mass of sensible support for change and I'm willing to take on responsibility for helping to drive that change. I don't believe in burning a village unless you are prepared to rebuild it.
Words to describe me: Energetic, creative and fun.
Head of Legal, IT & IP
"Your sexuality doesn't need to define you or your career but nor should it ever limit you."
Dean is an IT Law specialist who heads ANZ's IT and IP legal teams based in Melbourne and Singapore. He is a member of the ANZ Pride Network and has advised ANZ on various aspects of its involvement in LGBTI events including sponsorship of Sydney Mardi Gras and the GAYTM and #HoldTight campaigns.
Role models: My honest, humble, hardworking and practical parents. They always encouraged me to do my best and stressed the importance and value of a good education. The values they instilled in me are at the centre of who I am and every day I draw on the life skills they equipped me with.
Advice: Your sexuality doesn't need to define you or your career but nor should it ever limit you.
Motivations: My to-do list. While it is always too long and has plenty that is mundane, it also has plenty that excites and motivates.
Changing perceptions: I wish there was something momentous or profound I could cite in answering this question. I have simply been honest and open and taken calculated stands against prejudice. I have to acknowledge that this is less heroic than it is for many when one works for an employer like ANZ that genuinely supports diversity and actively encourages us to bring our whole selves to work.
Words to describe me: Authentic, hardworking and practical.
Andrew Barr MLA
Chief Minister & Treasurer
"I want to make Canberra the most inclusive, progressive and best city it can possibly be."
Andrew has led a positive and progressive agenda for Canberra since becoming ACT Chief Minister in 2014. He has championed LGBTI rights for two decades including moving the change to the ALP national platform to support Marriage Equality in 2011.
Inspiring role models: There are far too many to narrow down to just one. I would say my parents, brother, partner and close friends have had the biggest impact in shaping my life and career. In terms of political inspiration and role models: Paul Keating, Gough Whitlam and Julia Gillard stand out.
Career advice: Be yourself and contribute to the world on more than just LGBTI issues. Never forget those who have come before us and never forget the sacrifices they made that led to the greater equality we have today.
Motivations: Change. Improvement. Making a difference. I want to make Canberra the most inclusive, progressive and best city it can possibly be. It has been my home for most of my life – I love living here and want to share the great things we have to offer with the rest of Australia and the world.
Changing perceptions: By taking a series of controversial but important policies and projects to two consecutive elections, winning those elections and implementing those policies and projects. Over the past few years, we have implemented policies that enable Canberra to become the most inclusive city in Australia. I believe government should lead on social inclusion and equality. While these policies are reflective of our community, they come with some political risk and some detractors.
Words to describe me: Progressive, determined and loyal.
Together Co Pty Ltd
Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Together Co Pty Ltd
"I'm driven by the belief that ideas are the fuel of progress and brands do have the power to do good."
Simone has a 30-year career in advertising and marketing, creating and building some of the most powerful and purposeful brands in the world. She spent close to a decade leading the world's No.1 creative agency, Saatchi & Saatchi in Australia and Singapore. She has contributed to the community through work with The Pinnacle Foundation, UNWOMEN and White Ribbon.
Inspiration: It comes from the people the world over that share my ambition of applying the power of ideas to make change. I purposefully chose to work in the most highly awarded creative agencies in the world because I knew it was there I would find the most talented and like-minded people. Individual role models in my career would be the CEO and Executive Creative Director team that led Saatchi & Saatchi Australia prior to my CEO appointment.
Career advice: Keep it simple, be yourself.
Motivations: I'm driven by the belief that ideas are the fuel of progress and brands do have the power to do good.
Changing perceptions: I use the power of brand to create remarkable businesses. I help businesses articulate who they are and define their promise to the world. I then use strategy, creativity and technology to ignite their internal team and deliver a memorable and distinct customer experience. During my career, I've worked with successful global companies, government and non-government organisations on a long list of social 'change' related issues. Standouts: The globally recognised UN Voices Project – designed to give a voice to those whose plight normally goes unseen and unheard. Another opportunity presented itself for us to help change the perceptions that most Australians had about Australia's indigenous and their challenges. We created a brand, reconcile.org and utilised key inspirational figures to instigate open dialogue. In addition, the White Ribbon 'I Swear – My Oath' campaign was the first out of my own agency and launched by Kevin Rudd.
Words to describe me: Problem solver. Or if you want me to play by the rules: sharp, conceptual and curious.
QBE Insurance Australia & New Zealand
Chief Risk Officer
QBE Insurance Australia & New Zealand
"I believe in being authentic – leadership is about really feeling for your people and motivating them but also being completely honest."
Prior to his current role on the Executive Leadership Group at QBE Australia, Mark was the Chief Risk Officer for UK and Europe for Prudential. In the early 2000s Mark was on the Mardi Gras and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association Boards. He is currently a volunteer Director of the Performance Space, which specialises in queer, indigenous and diverse experimental theatre.
Role models: Geoff, my partner – almost 18 years ago he turned me from a bit of a country bumpkin. He spurred my passion in visual arts and I'm still on an amazing journey with him. We've travelled the world together and he left the job he loved for our move to London. I can't think of anyone who has inspired me more.
Career advice: Be true to yourself and do whatever you want. I once mentored a great guy through Pinnacle who was doing geology – he's had a great time as he is passionate and has a talent for it. Don't be scared off from doing what you want.
Motivations: I just love leading, mentoring and supporting people. I have had people follow me from previous roles as they have enjoyed being part of my team. I also like to have a lot of fun at work and I believe in being authentic – leadership is about really feeling for your people and motivating them but also being completely honest.
Changing perceptions: I remember coming out in 1993 and I thought that being visible would change perceptions and help the more junior LGBTI colleagues. In those days Pride groups did not exist but I was often sought out for confidential advice. I have just started setting up an OUT in Risk and Compliance networking group to hopefully provide support to LGBTI professionals.
Words to describe me: Resilient, passionate and cheeky.
Executive Manager, Retail Banking Services Productivity
"Be open to opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone as they will help you develop resilience and be yourself."
Nicole joined the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in the Group Productivity team in 2012 and currently drives productivity change in the Retail Bank. She joined Unity, the Commonwealth Bank's LGBTI employee network, in 2013 where she has consistently focused on advocating for trans and gender diverse employees and customers. Nicole is currently the Unity Co-Chair.
Greatest role model: A senior leader within the Commonwealth Bank's Retail Bank has been such an inspiration. They have made time to meet on a regular basis to help coach and mentor me to identify how I can bring my best self to work and focus on the things that really matter to my development. They are practical, approachable, have the ability to make a complex business scenario seem simple and are not afraid of hard work – all characteristics I hope to emulate and develop.
Career advice: Seek guidance, support and feedback from a variety of people, from all diverse backgrounds to ensure you broaden your perspectives. Be open to opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone as they will help you develop resilience, and lastly, be yourself.
Motivations: Equality is so important to me so I strive to ensure that whatever I do does not disadvantage another person. I have a real sense of community and strive to develop, support and enhance the wellbeing of the people in my community.
Changing perceptions: Being my true self at all stages of my career has helped to demonstrate a sense of integrity that has been consistent. Don't judge a book by its cover, hence, don't assume that because I do not fit the gender norms that I can't succeed in business. Challenging other people's perception has been a highlight.
Words to describe me: Gregarious, generous and loyal.
Councillor Tony Briffa JP
Hobsons Bay City Council
Hobsons Bay City Council
"As the first publicly elected intersex person anywhere in the world, I know I have helped raise awareness of intersex people and educated many people about what intersex is."
Tony was elected to Hobsons Bay City Council in 2008, 2012 and 2016, to Deputy Mayor in 2009, 2010 and 2017 and to Mayor in 2011. Tony initiated the Western Suburbs Councils participating in the Midsumma Carnival and celebrating LGBTI culture in local communities. Tony has been an intersex human rights activist for 19 years.
Inspiration: I have been inspired by many people throughout my life, including political leaders, human rights activists, aviators, women, composers and colleagues! Many have inspired my passion for making a positive difference and contributing as much as possible to my public life and career in aviation.
Career advice: In an Australian context the future is very bright for LGBTI people starting out in their career. People are ultimately judged on their professionalism and contribution to the workplace rather than their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics.
Motivations: I am most passionate about making positive contributions to my local community, to the human rights of people with intersex variations and to the aviation company I work for.
Changing perceptions: As the first publicly elected intersex person anywhere in the world, I know I have helped raise awareness of intersex people and educated many people about what intersex is. It can be very daunting being a public intersex person and I have experienced personal challenges as a result, but having been elected to office three times as a Councillor, three times as Deputy Mayor and once as Mayor, I feel comfortable knowing I have been accepted by the community despite my intersex variation. In turn I know this also helps break down barriers for intersex people that follow.
Words to describe me: Tenacious, dedicated and resilient.
Head of Change & Communications, Sustainable Change
"Choose your moment to come out about you/your relationship when it feels right and you have the right support around you."
David's skills span organisational change, solutions delivery and business operations in many industries, particularly banking and finance. He is a founding member of Unity, Commonwealth Bank's LGBTI network, which now boasts more than 2,500 members. He led the network as Co-Chair for more than two years, expanding it to other parts of the Commonwealth Bank Group – Bankwest and ASB in New Zealand.
Lessons: I learned what hard work means from a general manager at Commonwealth Bank at a time when I looked after one of our business customer platforms. When operational incidents happened, he led from the front in terms of energy and drive to see the problems through to the end, even through the night. And the person I must say thank you to for keeping me grounded is my nan. She's no longer with us but I know how hard she had to work to support our family in the most humble of ways.
Advice: Choose your moment to come out about you/your relationship when it feels right and you have the right support around you. Many organisations now, especially here in Australia, are more inclusive and have employee networks that have broadened acceptance.
Motivations: The knowledge that by the end of the day I've had an impact on someone, for the better. Much of my life is about supporting people in achieving something and growing more.
Changing perceptions: Myself and a small group of others did challenge what could have been perceived as traditional and conservative views in banking when we started up the LGBTI employee network at Commonwealth Bank's Unity. I led the LGBTI employee network as a Co-Chair for a number of years, changing leaders' understanding and giving permission for our allies and colleagues to have conversations.
Words to describe me: Authentic, empathetic and curious.
Global Chief Executive Officer, Radio & TV presenter
"Believe in yourself. Do not let the fact that you are LGBTI hold you back in any way."
John founded his own company, RWR Group, at 24 years old. RWR Group operates multiple recruitment brands globally. John has also worked for Channel Ten as a media and entertainment reporter and was Chairman of Midsumma Festival. Midsumma is Victoria's second largest festival and is an incredible platform on which to engage and promote the LGBTI community.
Greatest role model: One of the most influential people in my life has been my business partner Trish Mclean. Trish is one of the most pragmatic people I've ever met and has really taught me to embrace life and live it to the fullest. I would also say Trish has encouraged and inspired me to follow my dreams which sometimes have been very 'pie in the sky' but her belief in me has never wavered.
Career advice: Believe in yourself. Do not let the fact that you are LGBTI hold you back in any way. We all grew up with this stigma that something was wrong with us so many of us tried to hide who we were.
Motivations: Achieving success. This can take on many forms and sometimes it's as simple as making an impact for one of my charities or giving a talk that I hope can impact at least one person.
Changing perceptions: I would say my biggest impact in terms of changing perceptions is around my work with anti-bullying and domestic violence. When I started working in this space we struggled to get media to cover the topic unless a child took their own life from bullying or a woman was killed by a partner. Now I talk on air regularly about these causes and the stigma of talking about bullying, youth suicide and domestic violence is almost gone.
Words to describe me: Empathetic, driven and fun.
Magali De Castro
"Surround yourself with people who are supportive and who inspire you."
As a nurse in general practice, Magali quickly discovered a passion and aptitude for developing and implementing systems for effective patient care. This led to the start of her own consulting business with which she is a frequent speaker and coach. She is also the Clinical Director at HotDoc, a tech start-up that helps practices better connect with patients. Magali has found that being an out and authentic gay person in a work setting has made the biggest impact, particularly to colleagues who may not have had a prior frame of reference.
Inspiration: My greatest role model has been my mother. She worked very hard as a professional and single mother, and built a career where, to this day, she is highly regarded and respected by her colleagues, even though she's been retired for more than a decade. She has held very powerful positions in what is largely a male-dominated industry, and to her, career advancement has never been about gender or status or 'who you know,' but instead about a passionate quest to continuously improve the quality of her work.
Career advice: Surround yourself with people who are supportive and who inspire you. Never be afraid to ask for help when you're stuck or unsure. And if the help you get doesn't quite hit the nail on the head ... then keep looking and ask someone or somewhere else.
Passions: I love learning and I love discovery. So the thing I'm most passionate about, and what gets me out of bed in the morning, is the anticipation of cracking the question or challenge at the core of whatever project I've got my sights set on at that moment.
Changing perceptions: I think by far, the main thing I've done, which is quite simple really, but is what I feel has challenged perceptions the most in my line of work, has been to simply live an open and genuine life as a gay person.
Words to describe me: Dreamer, curious and compassionate.
Sydney Symphony Orchestra
Chief Executive Officer
Sydney Symphony Orchestra
"Align yourself with the best people you can find – not the best career opportunities on paper."
Now the CEO of Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Emma was an international leader in the cultural sector based in New York, advising arts organisations globally on strategy, fundraising and finance. Emma supported LGBTI causes in the United States through pro-bono consulting and philanthropic support via the Dunch Arts Fuel Fund.
Greatest role model: My career has been shaped and supported by strong women who shared their knowledge and actively invested in my professional development, particularly Mary Vallentine, former Managing Director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Mary Jo Capps, currently Chief Executive of Musica Viva Australia. They forged a path for Australian women in cultural leadership in the 1990s that I am now privileged to walk. They encouraged me to take a leap to America 20 years ago, stayed in touch throughout the intervening decades, told leaders in Australia about me when this role became vacant last year, and welcomed me home when I was appointed to the job.
Career advice: Align yourself with the best people you can find – not the best career opportunities on paper. The path isn't always clear and it's your relationships with leaders who know your work and trust your integrity that will carry you through in the long run.
Motivations: I am passionate to have an impact, do some good, and make a difference in my particular slice of the universe. I'd like to look back and know that I had spent my life doing something worthwhile for our society, and I believe sharing culture is very worthwhile.
Changing perceptions: Orchestras and arts organisations historically have been led by men, so I'm proud to join the growing ranks of women in major cultural leadership roles internationally, as well as the ranks of Australian women CEOs under 50.
Words to describe me: Energetic. Positive. Passionate!
Non Executive Director
"We actively implement overt and tangible procedures, which serve to make respect and inclusivity for all in our care or employ a guaranteed right"
Cathy has been involved in the aged care industry for more than 30 years. She bought her first facility in 1992 and is Co-Founder of Blue Cross Group. The group has expanded to 33 facilities through mergers, acquisitions and development. As Non-Executive Director of Blue Cross she transitioned from male to female last year. Cathy has assisted in the business diversity training program Proud To Be Me, which informs and educates staff, residents and suppliers about LGBTI issues. She is also secretary of Trans Gender Victoria.
Role models: Throughout my career in real estate and the aged care sector, my father was both a catalyst and ongoing inspiration. My overall ambition has been to not just equal my father's accomplishments, but to exceed them in a big way. Today I am very happy to say that box has been ticked. My father retired and lived to express pride in seeing that his two eldest children built a wonderful business. Regarding my journey to transitioning male to female, Cate McGregor proved herself to be a great role model. Her resilience and determination to not let gender dysphoria rule her life, let alone take it, helped me make the decision to also live my life on my own terms.
Career advice: In life, it is sometimes necessary to eat a certain amount of rubbish. The most important thing is to not acquire a taste for it.
Motivations: Nothing is more cheer inspiring than a good cardio workout. I am most passionate about my new partner and pursuing our many shared interests, which include travel, extensive retail therapy and cooking elaborate meals for intimate dinner parties.
Changing perceptions: Our company produced a training program which included a series of videos to educate our staff and suppliers about LGBTI issues. We actively implement overt and tangible procedures, which serve to make respect and inclusivity for all in our care or employ a guaranteed right.
Words to describe me: Determined, conscientious and loveable.
"Be yourself, be a contributor and don't worry about what others are thinking (because they're actually not thinking about you)."
Luci is the Assistant Governor (Economic) at the Reserve Bank of Australia. She is responsible for the Bank's Economic Analysis and Economic Research departments and is the Chief Economic Advisor to the Governor and the board. She also chairs the Bank committee responsible for its data strategy, is the Executive Sponsor of the Bank's Mathematica Users Community and is the Executive Sponsor of the LGBTI Allies Employee Resource Group.
Greatest role model: I think it's more fruitful to think about the traits you admire in different people. No single person is going to be the right template for every aspect of your own aspirations.
Career advice: Be yourself, be a contributor and don't worry about what others are thinking (because they're actually not thinking about you).
Motivations: My kids and the opportunity to contribute to the Bank's work in support of the public good.
Changing perceptions: Economics is a very male-dominated profession. Just being female is enough to challenge perceptions. I've always been open about being a lesbian throughout my career and over the years I have shared with colleagues some of the issues we face.
Words to describe me: Passionate, focused and open.
Stage and Screen Travel
Stage and Screen Travel
"Having LGBTI leaders is proof that sexuality won't define or inhibit you."
Tiziano has been in the travel industry for 20 years, with 11 of those at Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG). Tiziano received the FCTG Directors Award in 2016 for continual year on year growth, and the highest employment satisfaction and client retention rates. He focuses on creating an inclusive and progressive culture at FCTG – reflected in the 90 per cent staff retention rate!
Inspiration: My partner is without doubt my biggest inspiration in life and in my career. As an executive for a well-known global media company, he's worked on some of the biggest TV shows around the world. His determination rivals most and when he sets his mind on achieving a goal, he does just that. He's worked tirelessly on chasing his dreams and being the driver of his own destiny.
Career advice: You are more than your sexuality. Don't be afraid to be yourself, and let your hard work, passion, integrity and ambition define you!
Motivations: They say the two most important things that lead to longevity of life are good personal relationships and social activities. I couldn't agree more. It's the supportive community around me that gets me out of bed each day. It's the friends that have become family. And it's this very sense of community that I try to bring to Stage and Screen so our people can experience that every day they come to work.
Changing perceptions: In addition to 20 per cent of Stage and Screen's people identifying as LGBTI, I have LGBTI women and men on my management team. Having LGBTI leaders is critical in demonstrating and reinforcing cultural values within our business, and proof that sexuality won't define or inhibit you.
Words to describe me: Loyal, pragmatic and people-oriented.
Chief Digital Officer
"As someone that has been fortunate enough to have had a successful career, I've always felt a responsibility to be open about my sexuality."
Mark is the Chief Digital Officer for CrownBet, where he leads the development of digital products across the organisation. Prior to this he was Chief Information Officer at ME Bank and he also held a number of senior roles with GE Capital including the Global Head of Technology Process, Chief Technology Officer, and Director of FastWorks, Quality and Strategic Programs. Mark was instrumental in driving LGBTI inclusion initiatives at ME, and was the driving force behind ME's public support of Marriage Equality.
Role models: I've been surrounded by so many positive role models throughout my career who all share a number of common traits. They believed that people came to work each day wanting to do their best, and that it was their role as their leader to set them up for success by being clear about what best looks like. They had trust in me and treated any misses as learning opportunities rather than failures. They treated every human being fairly and with the same level of respect. They never mocked, judged or criticised anyone for who they were.
Career advice: Have the courage to bring your whole self to work – this is often about leaning into your own insecurities as much as dealing with other peoples. Your authenticity will be recognised and rewarded in the long run and you'll give others the courage to follow in your footsteps.
Motivations: I love leading people and playing my role in setting them up for success. Leveraging diverse ways of thinking and coaching people to be their very best is incredibly rewarding, and creates sustainable capability over time.
Changing perceptions: As someone that has been fortunate enough to have had a successful career, I've always felt a responsibility to be open about my sexuality, to not only break down barriers and stereotypes within the industry, but to be a role model for LGBTI staff or other minorities.
Words to describe me: Father, coach and strategist.
Health Technology Analysts
Health Technology Analysts
"Excellence always beats prejudice."
Alasdair is the owner and operator of Health Technology Analysts. He joined the company in 2014 as Asia Pacific Leader and subsequently built a strong team and reputation leading to a management buy-out in June 2017. Alasdair has assisted federal reimbursement applications for HIV/Hepatitis therapies. He is a strong advocate of inclusion and bringing your whole self to work.
Greatest role model: My parents have been a huge influence in my life, personally and professionally. They always made me feel I could achieve anything I wanted. There was never a question or moment of doubt. What I wanted to do or who I became was just dandy with them because they never showed anything but unwavering faith.
Career advice: Don't get side tracked by negativity or actively seek rewards in the workplace. Focus on doing positive work and making valuable contributions. You will look back on those achievements with the most satisfaction. And the rewards will follow.
Motivations: Growing up in Scotland, from a working-class background, several family members struggled with chronic illness, including my father. Therefore, a medical career seemed like an obvious choice for me, I knew that I wanted to use whatever academic aptitudes I had to make a positive impact. I was the first person in my extended family to attend University so there was a great sense of motivation and impetus not to waste my opportunities.
Changing perceptions: I appreciate that not everyone has LGBTI people in their life and perceptions may be informed by lazy stereotypes. Perhaps self-confidence has been fundamental in my career, allowing me to power through misconceptions or discrimination when they arose. Some people may have held negative perceptions, but these were never obstructive to me, I just wouldn't let it be. Excellence always beats prejudice.
Words to describe me: Analytical, confident and idealistic.
Dr Cassandra Goldie
Australian Council of Social Service
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Council of Social Service
"Seek out the people in your community, organisation or industry who will support you, who will have your back."
Cassandra is CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service. She has represented the interests of people who are disadvantaged, and civil society generally, at national, regional and international levels, including at the G20 and the United Nations, as well as in grassroots communities. Cassandra has consistently advocated for LGBTI equality rights, including driving major LGBTI law reform in the Northern Territory.
Greatest role model: The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, for her lifetime of work as a fearless, dignified advocate for human rights and equality. She sends a powerful message to women and girls everywhere to be bold and brave – to be who we are, and to do it with pride.
Career advice: Seek out the people in your community, organisation or industry who will support you, who will have your back. They can be fabulous vehicles for support and advice. Don't give up until you find the person or organisation that can assist you. Be kind. And give lots of hugs.
Motivations: I have always worked in one way or another on social justice issues. This came from my modest background where I learnt as a child how important it is to be vigilant about the kind of society in which we want to live. I am driven by wanting to ensure everyone can live with dignity and be treated with respect. We are a wealthy country yet more than 730,000 children in Australia are living in poverty and almost three million people. How can this be?
Changing perceptions: I talk about human rights and equality in everything I do. Whether it is policy development, spending time with business and industry groups, or advocating to government on behalf of people on low incomes across Australia.
Words to describe me: Compassionate, committed and courageous.
Vice President Global Marketing
"My real passion comes from having a job that allows me to develop and grow brands with a mission to create acceptance and belonging – not just for LGBTI people, but everyone."
Matthew has held sales and marketing roles at Unilever, L'Oréal and Ansell and is currently the Vice President of Global Marketing for LifeStyles – the company created when Ansell sold their sexual wellness division. Believing that normalising typically stigmatised issues is the key to acceptance, LifeStyles has been inclusive of LGBTI people in all key communication campaigns, demonstrating that all relationships are equal.
Inspiring role models: I have worked with many people from different cultures, countries and organisations who have helped me further appreciate and better understand the true meaning of integrity. When I am tested, it is these people who inspire me to get it right both in life and work.
Career advice: Be yourself. I think most people want to understand the strength of your character and your potential to succeed. If people are striving to be someone or something that they're not, they are creating an obstacle in their development, which will prevent them from reaching their true potential. That would be a great shame.
Motivations: I am driven by doing interesting work with great colleagues and collaborators, as well as enjoying opportunities to travel and meet interesting people. But my real passion comes from having a job that allows me to develop and grow brands not just in Australia but around the world, with a mission to create acceptance and belonging – not just for LGBTI people, but everyone.
Changing perceptions: Championing LGBTI acceptance in day-to-day work-life also paves the way for stronger female equality, racial acceptance and having a better attitude to anyone in minority. Our global campaigns over the past few years have featured LGBTI people represented in a positive and natural way. Our business and our brands believe in the power of diversity and we have used this belief to promote acceptance through our communications.
Words to describe me: Open, earnest and fun.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Head of Operations
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
"We were having a staff BBQ and a young girl came up to me and said she was bi-sexual and didn't know how to come out at work. So I worked with her to form a network of like-minded people."
Manda is a television industry professional who started 30 years ago as one of the first female camera operators in NSW. Since then, Manda has worked across all facets of TV including producing, directing and various production and operational roles and has spent the past 15 years in senior leadership. She held the roles of Secretary and Ride Leader with Dykes on Bikes before becoming President for the term 2014 – 2016. Manda was also a board member of ACON in July 2016 to January 2018.
Greatest role models: The first ones I remember were my parents, who supported me in my chosen career. Then to my first job at WIN Television Wollongong, where the Head of News and the Chief Cameraman at the time, gave me the opportunity to become a Camera Operator (one of the first female Camera Operators in New South Wales (NSW) and Australia). Various senior managers from both the WIN Network and the Ten Network then continued to afford me opportunities to move through various roles in production and operations including management roles.
Career advice: I love the term 'bring your whole self to work'. When I did come out at work, it gave me the freedom to be who I was all the time without having to hide any part of me. This was not only liberating, but allowed me to view issues through the lens of my total life experience.
Motivations: I love being part of making Quality Australian Content and the vision of the ABC Board, Leadership Team and Executive continues to inspire me to make the ABC a great place to work for everyone here. Other inspirations are riding my motorbike and writing and playing music.
Changing perceptions: We were having a staff BBQ and a young girl came up to me and said she was bi-sexual and didn't know how to come out at work. So I worked with her to form a network of like-minded people.
Words to describe me: Passionate, driven and loyal.
People & Culture Director
"Find a place to work where diversity and authenticity is celebrated and share your perspective. There will always be someone who will learn from you and feel stronger having you around."
Jane's professional background includes marketing, sales and human resources in food, beverage and pharmaceuticals. Jane has worked for large multinational organisations including Pfizer, Cadbury Schweppes and Lion and provides mentoring support to young LGBTI people. In the 90s, the brand Jane was managing changed its logo to a rainbow in support of San Francisco Pride – controversial at the time!
Greatest role model: Madonna has always been my inspiration! I love the way she has reinvented herself for more than four decades to remain relevant. Whether you're a business, brand or an individual, you can never stand still – evolve, grow and keep learning.
Career advice: It's exhausting when you can't be yourself at work. You waste so much energy trying to censor parts of your life, energy that could be better spent doing a great job and building your career. Find a place to work where diversity and authenticity is celebrated and share your perspective. There will always be someone who will learn from you and feel stronger having you around.
Motivations: I love being a change agent at home and at work and am motivated by coaching others to be the best version of themselves. I enjoy learning new things and constantly asking 'why not?'
Changing perceptions: I remember presenting to our Board of Directors in the early 2000s when I was eight months pregnant with twins. They knew I was gay and they couldn't have been more supportive. I think I've changed perceptions by just living my life honestly, being in a long-term relationship and having two children. I'm passionate about equality in all its forms and feel very grateful to work for Lion where we've closed the gender pay gap, have 50:50 targets for all roles and supported Marriage Equality several years before it became law.
Words to describe me: Curious, solutions-focused, inclusive.
Director, Pride Inclusion Programs
"I am incredibly proud of the organisation that I work for and what we, specifically within Pride in Diversity, have been able to accomplish in really driving LGBTI inclusion within Australia."
Dawn has held a diverse range of roles throughout her 37-year career, ranging from COBOL/CICS programmer through to business owner/consultant and organisational change and development roles within financial services. In 2009 Dawn left the corporate sector to join ACON to establish the Pride in Diversity program alongside a benchmarking instrument for LGBTI workplace inclusion, Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI).
Dawn was included in the AFR's 100 Most Influential Women recognition in 2014.
Inspiration: I can't say that I've had one single role model apart from my partner who has taught me so much and inspired me enormously in regard to her own courage and ability to make a mark in a very male dominated and at the time, homophobic industry.
Career advice: I can remember walking into the office of a global investment bank years ago for a meeting and on the wall hung a rather remarkable piece of art that read 'my silence is your comfort'. It spoke to the many years I hid my sexuality, for the comfort of others. My advice would be to be proud of who you are.
Motivations: I love the work that I do and I am incredibly proud of the organisation that I work for and what we, specifically within Pride in Diversity, have been able to accomplish in really driving LGBTI inclusion within Australia.
Changing perceptions: The work that we do has made a significant impact on perceptions around LGBTI workplace inclusion. Year one of the program there was nothing but closed doors, opposition and steering clear of anything we had to say. Once we introduced the benchmarking instrument (and awards), competition started to heat up which in turn gives us greater entry into organisations to do our work.
Words to describe me: Driven, dog-loving and thankful.
Chief Executive Officer
"I have been able to challenge and change perceptions about the role LGBTI people can have in caring for children through adoption or fostering."
Steve qualified as a social worker in 1995. Over the past 23 years he has spent his career working in government and non-government social services. Steve has been a Senior Executive with Key Assets, a children's services provider, for 13 years and is currently the CEO. At work, Steve is a senior champion for LGBTI inclusion, leading the Key Assets LGBTI strategy and Inclusive Workplace campaign.
Greatest role model: This is a hard one to answer because there are so many along the way! My first ever line manager, Kathryn Smith, has probably been my greatest ever role model. She demonstrated what it takes, in leadership, to come in and change the direction of a team that was struggling to survive. Her passion for delivering quality services and achieving good outcomes for children and young people inspired me.
Career advice: Absorb all you can from others to do your best and be your best. Be authentic!
Motivations: I work in the children and families social services sector. I am most passionate about giving every child and young person the opportunity to live in a safe, secure and nurturing environment and for them to achieve their full potential.
Changing perceptions: I consider myself fortunate to work in a sector that has a long history of campaigning for social justice and human rights. I think that I have been able to challenge and change perceptions about the role LGBTI people can have in caring for children through adoption or fostering. Through our This Is An LGBTI Inclusive Workplace Campaign I have supported the move to a more inclusive work environment in our services in Japan. During the Marriage Equality postal survey in Australia, I was able to engage in discussions with foster carers, following my communication with them about endorsing a Yes vote.
Words to describe me: Loyal, adventurous and kind.
Leigh Johns OAM
Fair Work Commission
Fair Work Commission
"When I started out in the law there were very few 'out' lawyers."
Prior to his appointment to the Fair Work Commission in 2013, Commissioner Johns was the CEO of a Commonwealth Government Agency and the Chief Counsel of the Fair Work Ombudsman. Commissioner Johns has had a long involvement in the LGBTI community. He is a past President of the Midsumma Festival and the Victoria AIDS Council.
Greatest role model: When I started out in law there were very few 'out' lawyers. I worked in a very conservative field and thought that if my sexuality was known it would adversely affect my career. Around the time Michael Kirby AC CMG was appointed as President of the NSW Court of Appeal he was openly gay and it was well known when he was appointed to the High Court of Australia in 1996. I had only come out two years earlier.
Career advice: Kirby said it best: “Go on being yourself and making a contribution to ... a better world. Never give up!”
Motivations: I'm passionate about my work and feel privileged to have the role of Commissioner. Alongside the Commonwealth Parliament, the Commonwealth Government and the High Court, the Fair Work Commission is one of our nation's oldest institutions. It is also one of the most important, noting the significant role it has played in our social, economic and political history.
Changing perceptions: Because of the important role Kirby played in my life (by being out) I have tried to model the same. Whether as a Senior Associate at Mallesons, Partner at Australian Business Lawyers, Chief Counsel at the Fair Work Ombudsman, CEO of a Commonwealth Government Agency and now as a Fair Work Commissioner, I've been visible as a gay man, in a loving long-term relationship and a father.
Words to describe me: Loyal, persistent and flawed.
David Jones Electricians
David Jones Electricians
"I learnt that I shouldn't have to apologise for myself or to conform in an industry that has been historically heterosexual."
David started a four-year apprenticeship at 16, worked for another two years and achieved Leading Hands status. Today, David's company has 15 vans doing electrical repairs, appliance repairs and replacements as well as air conditioning installations and service. David is an ambassador for the charity StartOut, which primarily sets up mentors for young LGBTI youth in regional Australia for the preservation of mental health and reduction of youth suicide.
Greatest role model: I'm inspired by humble people. My father has inspired me around giving back to the community. My uncle has inspired me to go out into my own businesses. And my mother for her networking capabilities. All of these influences provided me with the ability to be well-connected, driven, successful and generous.
Career advice: Be yourself and own it. Be respectful but don't apologise for who you are.
Motivations: New and exciting work challenges that stimulate me. I'm also motivated by the ability to connect with people – both clients and the general public in day-to-day life. Smiling and getting to know people is key.
Changing perceptions: After a period of time, I learnt that I shouldn't have to apologise for myself or to conform in an industry that has been historically heterosexual. If anything, one thing I have done is shown a lot of guys in the ranks how to be a better electrician regardless of sexuality and many of them have gone on to start their own businesses! I've opened up a lot of doors for them and provided mentoring. It's a focus on lifting the game of the customer's tradie experience.
Words to describe me: Honourable, trustworthy and fun.
Senior Director Asia Pacific, Talent and Learning Solutions
"I worked on being the same Jason in my professional life as I was in my personal life."
Jason is a senior executive in the technology industry with more than 20 years' experience across LinkedIn, IBM, Microsoft and Gateway Computers. He is an Executive Sponsor for Out@In within the APAC region, LinkedIn's LGBTI employee resource group, and has previously been involved in LGBTI resource groups in other organisations.
Greatest role model: Earlier in my career at Microsoft, I had one of the senior leaders provide some coaching which resonated greatly, and challenged the way I had been leading. The feedback revolved around trust. At the time I was very capable and executing well, however teams around me did not really know who the real Jason was as I was not being totally open and vulnerable, mainly because of my sexuality and insecurity. This led to a lack of trust. I worked on being the same Jason in my professional life as I was in my personal life. Needless to say the impact on others and also within my career trajectory was incredibly positive.
Career advice: Focus on your passions and don't be afraid to truly be yourself. It will enable you to do your best work, and love what you do.
Motivations: Continuous learning and enabling our teams to be the best version of themselves. I feel fortunate that every day brings new learning, and grateful that I am in an environment where we continually challenge ourselves and the norm. Coupling this to a strong alignment of purpose at LinkedIn, it's easy to spring out of bed in the morning.
Changing perceptions: I am married in a long-term relationship with a seven year old daughter who we had via surrogacy. I am entirely open about my personal life in the workplace to break down the stereotype that can be associated with the LGBTI community, demonstrating that our community is diverse. I also do this in open forums. When presenting to external audiences, I often start with a picture of my family, wrapping a story about the subject matter linked to my family.
Words to describe me: Passionate, motivated and curious.
Melbourne Theatre Company
Melbourne Theatre Company
"Be authentic and be kind."
Virginia is Executive Director of Melbourne Theatre Company. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, a NSW Government Advisor and worked at many arts organisations including National Gallery of Victoria, STC and Sydney Festival. Virginia worked as a media consultant for the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Parade for three years as well as serving on the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as a Board Member.
Greatest role model: I have never really modelled my career on any one person, so many people at different times of my life have played critical roles in who I am now. Leo Schofield had an enormous impact on my career. He brought me over to Sydney Festival in the late 1990s from Sydney Theatre Company (STC). He had an indefatigable vision for how the arts could shape a city. It was fascinating to watch him weave all elements together – the people, the various government strata and corporate Sydney demonstrating how arts and culture can drive real change and economic impact. My years at Sydney Festival shaped my leadership and opened up an extraordinary network of contacts that serve me well to this day.
Career advice: Be authentic and be kind.
Motivations: Going to theatre keeps me out of bed. Feeding the cat gets me out of bed. Developing and mentoring the next generation of creative leaders.
Changing perceptions: Empowering colleagues. Being open, tolerant and fair.
Words to describe me: Collaborative, funny and a forward thinker.
"I am ready to be a soldier of social change, focusing on bringing women to the front line of business, technology and inclusion."
Denise has experienced a progressive and diverse career journey - including having served 23 years in the US Marine Corps. Denise began her tech career in a small firm and landed as a partner in the US Global SAP practice and ultimately as an Australian partner in Enterprise Applications, specifically SAP. Denise is at the forefront of leading Deloitte's LGBTI network GLOBE and bringing best practices from the US.
Inspiration: My greatest inspiration is my family for their unconditional love and support. What they have instilled in me - character, work ethic, faith, strength, courage, living my truth and striving for a purpose filled life are foundational to who I am.
Career advice: Know your truth: life is about your dimensions and how they fit together to make it your authentic self.
Passions: I am passionate about people, technology, women that tech, speaking my truth, living and leading with purpose. I am ready to be a soldier of social change, focusing on bringing women to the front line of business, technology and inclusion.
Changing perceptions: Showing those around me and the industry that women in technology is a reality - I am living proof.
Words to describe me: Living my truth!
Chief Executive Officer
"We have moved on from a time when I was told that the film we had participated in - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - was not going to be released as there were no gay people in France so therefore no one to watch it."
Graeme has 25 years of global experience in film, television and multimedia content creation, distribution and business. As CEO of Screen Australia since 2013 he has steered the agency through a rapidly changing environment of how content is made and seen. In 2017 Screen Australia published a ground-breaking review of diversity both on screen and behind the camera, which led to an industry wide push for change.
Greatest role model: First, my mother who set my life aspirations and personal traits. She didn't let knock backs and life challenges stop her from achieving big things and her goals and she (with major support from my Dad) pushed through barriers and they showed me to keep trying, while maintaining personal integrity at all costs. Second, a boss in England, Michael Kuhn, who took a chance on me and many other newish people to help him build a global film and TV business.
Career advice: Try to be aware of yourself, clear on your goals and be yourself. You might well have an extra layer of challenges to deal with compared to your friends and peers, maybe external or internal, emotional or mental or physical. You need to be clear on what you want to achieve and how to do it.
Motivations: I love new challenges and new experiences. Every day is a new day with different stories told by different people in different forms and formats all trying to find a way to reach and touch an audience. This never ceases to appeal to me.
Changing perceptions: We have moved on from a time when I was told that the film we had participated in – Priscilla Queen of the Desert – was not going to be released as there were no gay people in France so therefore no one to watch it.
Words to describe me: Determined, energetic and interested.
Lewis Land Group
Chief Financial Officer
Lewis Land Group
"Being visibly out in the workplace, openly sharing my life, my family and my story with my colleagues, clients and contacts has helped to challenge perceptions."
Matthew is Chief Financial Officer of the Lewis Land Group, one of Australia's largest privately-owned property groups. Prior to joining Lewis Land, Matthew spent 18 years with KPMG in Australia and the UK, where he was among the youngest Partners to be admitted by the firm. Matthew was chair of KPMG's LGBTI employee network and led the firm's support for Marriage Equality. He was a founding member of Pride in Diversity's Executive Forum.
Role models: My grandfather – who passed away four years ago – had a tough upbringing. He was born in the UK during the Great Depression, spent his childhood in South London during the Blitz and was orphaned in his early teens. In spite of these early setbacks, he had a magical combination of intelligence, generosity and humour (not to mention quiet resilience) that continues to have an impact on me. I have also been very lucky to have benefited from a number of sponsors and mentors that have acted as guides throughout my career.
Career advice: Capturing and nurturing networks from an early stage provides a strong foundation of support, as well as skills that will be invaluable regardless of where your career takes you. It's also important to remember that the era of the linear career is over! Businesses are now looking for people with varied experiences and who have been willing to experiment along the way.
Motivations: My two year old son – who is going through a Bananas in Pyjamas phase (6.27am, ABC Kids) – is usually a pretty forceful source of motivation to get out of bed. Apart from Elliott, I find acquiring new skills, meeting new people and being continually challenged, exhilarating.
Changing perceptions: I think being visibly out in the workplace, openly sharing my life, my family and my story with my colleagues, clients and contacts has helped to challenge perceptions.
Words to describe me: Creative, dependable and driven.
Walk for Freedom
Chief Executive Officer
Walk for Freedom
"Life is short. So grab it with both hands. There is no path to follow – and don't let people tell you that there is."
Jenn is the CEO of Walk Free Foundation as well as the Non-Executive Director for Fortescue Metals and the Commissioner for Australian Sports Commission. Prior to this Jenn was a Partner at Deloitte. Jenn also performed as captain of the dual Olympic gold medal-winning Australian hockey team.
Inspiration: This is always an easy choice for me. My mum. She has been and still is my greatest role model. She was a pioneer – she worked her whole life (at all hours of the day and night) and yet I can never remember a day when she wasn't there before school and immediately to support us. How lucky were we.
Career advice: No one is looking at you thinking: there is Fred and he is gay or there is Julie and she is a lesbian. In my experience, they really aren't and if they are, more fool them. You don't have to announce it but also don't hide it. Often people are unsure of how to raise it, so help them by just talking about it as part of your life, rather than deleting parts.
Motivations: Life is short. So grab it with both hands. There is no path to follow – and don't let people tell you that there is. If we kept doing things the same way like the so called wise people told us, we would be moving even slower than we are.
Changing perceptions: I honestly think I just go out of my way to create a friendly, open, inclusive environment no matter who you are; short, tall, little, big, lesbian, gay, straight, old, young, Australian or not – be the melting pot to generate a bit of colour!
Words to describe me: Creative, charismatic and collaborative.
Jude Munro AO
Victorian Planning Authority, Victorian Pride Centre
Victorian Planning Authority, Victorian Pride Centre
"My mantra when I was CEO Brisbane City Council was to lift the metabolic rate."
Jude was formerly CEO of Brisbane City Council from 2000 to 2010. This included managing a $2.6bn budget, tunnels and bridges, and more than 10,000 employees. Jude is an experienced Non-Executive Director and board chair. As a Co-Founder of Gay Liberation in Melbourne in 1972 as a 21 year old, she then went on to more activism including publishing the Young, Gay and Proud publication. Jude participated in the 1978 Mardi Gras march.
Greatest role model: My mother who showed me the value of a life of service. The importance of hard work. That every individual matters.
Career advice: Know yourself. Be yourself. Join an organisation which has a track record of support for LGBTI people if you can.
Motivations: The Victorian Pride Centre. An Australian first to provide a welcoming and permanent home for the LGBTI community. To be based in St Kilda – we're focused on its planning, design and finances.
Changing perceptions: My mantra when I was CEO Brisbane City Council was to lift the metabolic rate. That's why we planned and delivered tunnels and other infrastructure the quickest in Australia.
Words to describe me: Energetic, big picture and task-oriented.
"Enjoy and own your workplace because you belong there as much as anyone else."
Rachel joined Allens in 2003 and is a Partner in its disputes team, with a focus on business crime and human rights. Rachel has been a strong advocate for LGBTI rights in her role at Allens. This has included acting in strategic litigation in the High Court on the rights of the intersex community, and supporting the firm's work on the expunging of criminal records for homosexual men in certain states.
Inspiration: There hasn't been one greatest role model. For me it's been an eclectic combination of business leaders who have truly 'walked the walk', sports people who have stepped up to change accepted paradigms like the fabulous AFLW teams, politicians who inspire with their commitment to delivering good government and of course friends and family who constantly surprise you with their depth of talent.
Career advice: Be yourself. Turn down the white noise and any signs of self-doubt. Enjoy and own your workplace because you belong there as much as anyone else.
Motivations: My wonderful partner and our two beautiful children. And my true enjoyment of my job as a law firm partner. It is intellectually challenging, dynamic and demanding but in great ways. I can honestly say I have enjoyed every day I've been at the firm.
Changing perceptions: I came out early into my grad year at Allens. That was not the norm at the time. I hope I helped others feel safe to come out and be themselves at work. I've also worked hard to establish LGBTI and ally networks at our firm and within our sector. This has included either leading or encouraging the firm's work for LGBTI groups that have needed pro bono legal support, which has been important to these clients in need but also to our firm demonstrating a tangible commitment to diversity.
Words to describe me: I really hope they'd include 'constructively critical' and 'got your back'.
Norwegian Cruiseline Holdings
Senior Vice President & Managing Director Asia Pacific
Norwegian Cruiseline Holdings
"Always remember to thank the people that help you through the good and difficult times."
Steve joined Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings in 2015 to spearhead the launch of the company's Asia Pacific (APAC) headquarters. He is responsible for the strategic expansion, vision and continued growth of the company's presence in the fast growing APAC market. Steve is a proud advocate of diversity, equality and inclusiveness in the workplace and recently he vocalised his and his company's strong support for the Australian Marriage Equality Yes Campaign.
Greatest role model: I have been fortunate to work with some inspirational people throughout my career but the person who impacted life in my formative years was my grandmother. She owned a small hotel with a strong repeat clientele in the small seaside town in which I grew up back in the UK. From an early age she taught me the art of hospitality, the basics of which serve me well through to this day.
Career advice: Whatever happens in your life makes you stronger. Learn from this, grow in confidence and always remember to thank the people that help you through the good and difficult times.
Motivations: I am very passionate about the industry that I work in. Cruising is the fastest growing sector of the travel business globally and I have been very privileged to have been a part of it since I interned with P&O Cruises during my time at university. It's a very dynamic and exciting business and Australia as a market has exponentially grown beyond everyone's expectations.
Changing perceptions: I'm a proud advocate of diversity, equality and inclusiveness in the workplace. I recently vocalised our strong support for the Australian Marriage Equality Yes Campaign. In November 2017 I was the recipient of the Male Champion of Change award (Travel Weekly) for my contribution as a leader in identifying, facilitating and mentoring in the workplace.
Words to describe me: Passionate, hardworking and trustworthy.
Lisa Paul AO PSM
Paul & Webb, Navitas, University of Melbourne
Co-founder, Director, Entreprise Professor
Paul & Webb, Navitas, University of Melbourne
"I was the first 'out' Secretary (CEO) in Federal Government, to my knowledge."
Lisa was a Portfolio Secretary (CEO) in the Australian Public Service (APS) for 11 years, mainly in education and science, employment, and workplace relations sectors. She is now a Director of listed and private companies. Lisa was the first openly gay Portfolio Secretary in the APS, and has been a role model for LGBTI people in the APS since 2001, making it easier for other LGBTI employees.
Greatest role model: My partner Linda who taught me to be confident and optimistic and who loves me unconditionally. My friends, family and colleagues for their love and support. My wonderful bosses for their loyalty and vision.
Career advice: Be the same person at home and at work. Reflect on your values and live by them. Care for your team.
Motivations: Learning something new every day. Hearing people's stories with compassion and respect. Making a difference to people in need. The life-changing impact of education. Being able to lead people with energy and imagination. The people in my life.
Changing perceptions: I was the first 'out' Secretary (CEO) in Federal Government, to my knowledge. Third female Secretary (since Federal Government started in 1901). A strong reputation for promoting diversity, e.g. up to six per cent staff indigenous. Now 'out' in boardrooms too.
Words to describe me: Enthusiastic, creative and kind.
Australian Olympic Committee
General Manager, Games Support & Operations
Australian Olympic Committee
"I'm proud to create an environment where our incredibly diverse Olympic Team members can feel 100% comfortable to be exactly who they want to be."
At the start of 2017 Luke was promoted into the AOC's lead operations and sport relationship role and is responsible for the management and operations of our Australian Olympic Teams, including at the Pyeong Chang 2018 Winter Olympics, Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Prior to joining the AOC, Luke was part of the executive team at the AFL's not-for-profitpartner AFL SportsReady for four years and leveraged the incredible reach and power that sport can bring to encouraging diversity and inclusion.
Greatest role model: My father is the hardest worker and nicest man I know. At 71 years old he is still working full-time as a GP, giving excellent advice to me and my three sisters and I'm not sure I have ever heard him say a bad word about anyone. He instilled within us a determination to study hard, work hard and that will open up options to do what you want with your life.
Career advice: Find an industry that you are passionate about as it means your worst days at work will still be better than any day working for a cause you don't care about. Listen to your colleagues, understand your product, be resilient, don't expect to change the world immediately, but continually recognise and celebrate your successes.
Motivations: I've loved the Olympics since I was a little kid. Now I get to partner with the executive teams of our 45 Olympic sports to create an environment at an Olympic Games where our athletes can represent their country on the world stage, knowing they have been afforded every opportunity to perform at their best on the day.
Changing perceptions: I'm proud to lead a team which sees our role as creating an environment where our incredibly diverse Olympic Team members can feel 100% comfortable to be exactly who they want to be and represent Australia proudly.
Words to describe me: Loyal, excitable and lucky.
Australian Labor Party
Director & Labor Candidate for Prahran
Australian Labor Party
"Professionally I work with many religious organisations, many of whom opposed LGBTI rights, however by building a bridge around the values we share, as opposed to a wall."
Neil has led corporate affairs, business development and marketing teams across health, IT, education and child welfare. He has been behind many leading social policy and advocacy campaigns, as well as national and international philanthropic and development work – most recently in East Africa. As national Co-Convenor of Rainbow Labor (2008-2014) he led the campaign within the Labor Party that achieved more than 200 legislative and regulatory reforms, including changing Labor's position on Marriage Equality.
Inspiration: While not an individual role model or inspiration, those in business and the community who advocate for a better society, as well as a profitable and sustainable business – knowing that business and the broader community have a social compact in order to achieve success.
Career advice: Approach all people you engage with, work with and partner with as a relationship rather than a transaction. Showing appreciation if someone gives you time, thoughtful hand written notes, and building common values allow you to overcome potential issues of sexuality, as well as build networks and contacts with meaning and depth.
Motivations: First thing in the morning is almost always exercise – so in that sense my alarm. I am genuinely passionate about making the world a better place, and believe business, politics and community are all ways of doing that.
Changing perceptions: Professionally I work with many religious organisations, many of whom opposed LGBTI rights, however by building a bridge around the values we share, as opposed to a wall – we can shift hearts and minds in business, politically and across the community. In an era of slacktivism, where people think signing a petition or hitting 'like' has an impact (it has no impact and is just lazy) it is even more critical that professionally we reach others who do not think like us.
Words to describe me: Passionate, strategic and egalitarian.
"I'm proud to have been one of the leaders in the Parliament that resulted in Australia achieving equal marriage last year."
Senator Janet Rice is the Australian Greens LGBTI spokesperson, as well as the portfolio holder for women, agriculture and rural affairs, transports, and forests. Janet is an unwavering voice in the Parliament and in the community for LGBTI rights and equality, including Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTI Australians.
Greatest role model: My mum. As well as bringing up five of us kids, Mum went back to work as a teacher when my youngest brother was two and she has been actively working as a volunteer in the community for more than 60 years. At age 85 she's still going strong helping out with the local church playgroup for pre-school kids and providing community lunches for people doing it tough. She showed me that women could do anything and encouraged me to follow my dreams.
Career advice: To be out and proud and believe in yourself and seek out others who will support you in this.
Motivations: Inspiring and being inspired by people I'm working with to achieve change. There are so many things that need to change in the world from ending discrimination against LGBTI people to tackling dangerous global warming and achieving justice for Indigenous Australians and its people that have to act to achieve change.
Changing perceptions: My whole life as a community campaigner and as a politician has been about achieving change! With regard to ending discrimination against LGBTI people I'm proud to have been one of the leaders in the Parliament that resulted in Australia achieving equal marriage last year, and in raising the profile and the need for equality for trans and gender diverse and intersex people in particular.
Words to describe me: Passionate, down-to-earth and level-headed.
St Vincent Health Network Sydney
Chief Executive Officer
St Vincent Health Network Sydney
"As a 24 year old gay man working on the ward floor at St Vincent's, I could never have dreamed that 20 years later I would be the CEO of the Hospital."
Anthony is the CEO and is accountable for the overall leadership, management and patient care of St Vincent's Hospital Sydney, St Joseph's Hospital and Sacred Heart Health Service. Anthony is openly gay at work and has implemented a culture of respect where people feel comfortable to bring their whole selves to work.
Inspiration: I have long been inspired by a great Australian social reformer, advocate for the disadvantaged and educator, Norma Parker. After studying abroad, Norma returned to Australia in 1926, aged 26, becoming one of the first social workers in Australia. Norma went on to set up hospital social work and welfare services at St Vincent's Sydney and other hospitals, established social work education programs and held leadership roles in universities, professional associations and charities.
Advice: Always be true to yourself – we are blessed to live in an inclusive society, so don't ever be afraid to stand tall and proud.
Passions: I am inspired by the patients and carers I meet who show courage and humour in confronting their injury, illness or condition. I am inspired by my frontline colleagues and support staff who 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on rainy days, sunny days, at Christmas and holidays are there supporting, caring and healing our patients and their families.
Changing perceptions: As a 24 year old gay man working on the ward floor at St Vincent's, I could never have dreamed that 20 years later I would be the CEO of the Hospital. It goes to show that if you are passionate about what you're doing and work hard, achieving unimaginable goals is possible.
Words to describe me: Loyal, resilient and intuitive.
Commander Joint Health, Department of Defence
Commander Joint Health, Department of Defence
Air Vice Marshall
"People won't follow you if they can't see, and believe in, the real you."
Air Vice Marshal (Dr.) Tracy Smart AM is Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General of the ADF. AVM Smart is responsible for the provision of strategic health advice, technical oversight, health care, and operational health preparedness across the ADF.
AVM Smart has been a role model for junior personnel for many years. She also drove the development of the ADF's first policy for medical management of gender dysphoria, which has since been shared with many other nations, and policies to modernise the ADF's approach to the deployability of members who are HIV positive.
Greatest role model: Early role models included Katherine Hepburn and Martina Navratilova; later it was Xena: Warrior Princess. They taught me that being a women was not a barrier to doing whatever you wanted to do and also the importance of being yourself.
Career advice: The fundamentals of who we are and what we stand for should not change regardless of where we sit in an organisation. Authenticity is also one of the fundamentals of leadership – people won't follow you if they can't see, and believe in, the real you.
Motivations: I have been a member of the ADF for 33 years and take great pride in serving my country. I am passionate about providing the best possible health services to all ADF personnel to ensure they are fit to do their role to the best of their ability, and to help them recover if they become wounded, injured or ill.
Changing perceptions: I think my biggest influence has been as a role model – just doing my job to the best of my ability and being open and honest about my life. This not only empowers more junior LGBTI members of the ADF, but provides visibility at the senior level that sexuality is a non-issue when it comes to serving in the ADF at all levels.
Words to describe me: Passionate, committed and authentic.
Liberal Senator for Western Australia
"Authenticity is the foundation stone for personal courage."
Dean became a Liberal Senator for Western Australia in May 2012. In Parliament he has championed reform to Australia's free speech laws and proposed changes to Federal and State financial arrangements. Senator Smith has championed broader LGBTI issues in his role as Chair of the Parliamentary Liaison Group for HIV/AIDS, BBVs and STIs including working to end the stigma and discrimination experienced by those living with HIV and AIDS.
Greatest role model: King George VI, father of The Queen, is someone I greatly admire. He was thrust onto the throne unexpectedly and was a reluctant King. He showed great personal determination and resilience and became a beacon of hope and national unity during the Second World War. The modern expression of his commitment to public duty over self is most evident in the character of The Queen.
Career advice: Young LGBTI people should ask themselves: How do I best live an honest and authentic life? Authenticity is the foundation stone for personal courage. Doing the right thing might not be easy or popular, but it always ends up being the best thing to do.
Motivations: I am compelled to be a voice for people who don't have one. Whether I'm championing a fairer GST deal for Western Australia or arguing for Liberal values in our modern politics, I take my responsibilities very seriously as a parliamentarian. I do believe having a voice and giving a voice to causes does create change and can make a real difference in the lives of others.
Changing perceptions: I believe the work we have done in Parliament to build a consensus to legalise Marriage Equality is proof parliamentarians can step up and represent the will of the community and act across the political divide, working together to deliver real and lasting change.
Words to describe me: Down-to-earth, diligent and loyal.
Chief Executive Officer
"You can have a more fulfilling career, and more enjoyable relationships, when you're supported to be yourself."
Jarther's leadership experience spans marketing, sales and consulting roles across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific with some of the world's most successful brands such as Telstra, IBM, Hewlett Packard and Saatchi & Saatchi. He is now the CEO of Datarati, a leading customer experience marketing agency. He is a mentor to several business leaders within the LGBTI community, and recently registered with The Pinnacle Foundation, which provides scholarships to help LGBTI students achieve their full potential.
Inspiration: I've had several great managers over the years who encouraged and supported me in advocating for diversity and equality. Early on, Simone Bartley at Saatchi & Saatchi got me involved in the first recruitment campaign focused on the Gay and Lesbian Community (this was in the days before it was more widely called the LGBTI community). Being able to bring my identity as a gay man into my work really helped me feel our community was gaining acceptance and support. All managers (and organisations) who give somebody the chance to grow are my role models – especially when it's on work that really matters. I hope I've been that manager for some of the people who reported to me in my career.
Career advice: Don't stop learning: building qualifications, expertise and experience is certainly important in your career – and having a network of people who inspire you is equally if not more valuable. That's why our LGBTI community is such an important network.
Motivations: I'm passionate about helping people grow personally and professionally. You can have a more fulfilling career, and more enjoyable relationships, when you're supported to be yourself – to be authentic.
Changing perceptions: I've always aimed to nurture team and business cultures that value diversity and inclusion. Mentoring and coaching within the LGBTI community, particularly on business leadership and career development, supports others to be proudly out – and to speak out on important issues.
Words to describe me: Inquisitive, empathetic and creative.
Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, Northern Territory
Chief Executive Officer
Department of Trade, Business and Innovation, Northern Territory
"I am me."
Michael is the CEO of the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation in Darwin, Northern Territory. Michael leads a team of more than 250 employees with a Territory wide network of regional offices. Michael is open at work about his sexuality and puts a strong emphasis on encouraging a culture where people can bring their true and authentic selves to work.
Greatest role model: The first is my mother. I'm the eldest of four siblings. Mum was a teacher who put her teaching career on hold to be a full-time mother. My father died suddenly when I was 13 and mum had to return to teaching while raising the four of us alone. Her resilience, perseverance and determination through amazing hardship while always maintaining her passion, optimism and a sense of humour is an ongoing inspiration. My second is a former boss. I was in my mid-20s. I was not out at work then. I feared potential discrimination, it affecting my working relationships, my career prospects, etc. My boss got me to come out of my shell and to be comfortable and confident being myself in a professional context. All my fears were unfounded. And it gave me the courage to always be myself and to never hide ME ever again.
Career advice: Have courage. Do not fear. Always be yourself and be true to yourself. Be authentic and respectful to yourself and in your dealings with others.
Motivations: Making a difference – helping to make Australia a better place for current and future generations – for ALL Australians – and inspiring my teams and others around me to strive for the same.
Changing perceptions: We started a 'Hands Up for Diversity and Inclusion' digital campaign in early 2017 to promote and celebrate the importance of diversity in across the Northern Territory public service and how each individual has a personal role to play in contributing to inclusiveness.
Words to describe me: I am me.
"That look on a person's face when you tell them says more about that person, than it will ever say about you."
With a background in data analytics and marketing science, at the age of 30 Amy co-founded Harvest Insights, a Melbourne-based market research agency that was featured in the 2017 Australian Financial Review's list of Fast Starters. Amy champions the freedom of being authentically true to yourself, the importance of the corporate vocalisation of equality, challenging stereotypes, and appreciating the unique qualities of others.
Greatest role model: My business inspiration and endless motivation has always been my mum. As a single mother she worked multiple jobs and even though we had very little I watched her earn every cent of it with fearless tenacity. She managed and owned several small businesses with a tireless work ethic and an ability to engage with strangers like no one I've ever met.
Career advice: Coming out in a corporate business setting can be a terrifying prospect. What I would say to LGBTI youth starting their careers is that eventually you learn to realise that the anxiety that plagues you about that split-second pause and that look on the person's face when you tell them says more about that person, than it will ever say about you.
Motivations: I love having the ability to create a space where others feel valued and are appreciated for their unique qualities. I love that every aspect of my career and my interactions throughout the day allow me to use my creative and strategic strengths to solve big problems for big businesses.
Changing perceptions: I've been told throughout my career that I've helped other LGBTI find the confidence to live their truth. I've always been true to the person I am and with the support of my family and friends, I've never let my gender or sexuality be a defining characteristic of my ability to contribute to the corporate world.
Words to describe me: Driven, perceptive and hilarious.
Head of Inclusion & Diversity
"Experiment, experiment, experiment and have fun along the way!"
Sam is the Group Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Westpac. She began her career with Deloitte, and held various senior positions at NAB and BHP Billiton. Sam spearheaded Westpac's LGBTI Network for two years, and was a key driver in Westpac Group winning 2016 Employer of the Year for LGBTI Inclusion at the AWEI and Australian Human Resource Institute Awards.
Inspiration: Most definitely my dad – Raymond Turner. Dad was 57 when I was born, so I grew up having a different family structure to the other kids – a single elderly Dad. Dad instilled in me determination, a love for reading and music, a vivid imagination, respect for elders, a cheeky sense of humour and most importantly for my career – the belief that I could be and do anything I set my mind to.
Career advice: Very simply – experiment, experiment, experiment and have fun along the way! Don't worry about making 'the wrong choice', because there really is no such thing. Experiment in finding your authentic self, find the things you love doing, the things that you are good at and play to your strengths. A new role should have 75 per cent excitement and 25 per cent challenge!
Motivations: I'm most passionate about life! And to be honest coffee motivates me to get out of bed in the morning. That and an over-excitable Golden Retriever! I'm passionate about people. I love that through my work I get to influence both an environment and individuals that enable people to feel more included, and bring their true selves.
Changing perceptions: You will often find me challenging perceptions and trying new innovative programs and ideas. It is part of what makes my job so fun!
Words to describe me: Energetic, engaging and collaborative.
Experimental Person in Charge, Creative Lab
"When we speak about our needs we are marginalised, when we speak about our outputs we are equalising."
Tea is a founding member of Google's Creative Lab. Her output includes nine books, 17 websites, six apps, a feature film, three plays, three concerts, four museum exhibits and some teddy bears that talk. Her 2015 TEDx talk has more than 1.5m views. Tea documented her transition for International Women's Day and Trans Awareness Day. Tea identifies as queer, trans, and neurodivergent and also advocates for disability awareness.
Greatest role model: Plenty of amazing people, friends, family, teachers and colleagues. It was also difficult as a closeted trans queer person to even acknowledge role models let alone be inspired by them. Most recently my boss and founder of the Creative Lab at Google, Andy Berndt, has had the greatest impact – he has taught and inspired me, trusted me, and empowered me. I owe him everything.
Career advice: You are more than that, you are more than your intersections, or your queerness, or your disability, or your gender. You should speak about your work, what you do, what you are saying. When we speak about our needs we are marginalised, when we speak about our outputs we are equalising.
Motivations: Who gets out of bed with anything other than a grumble? The ideas I get excited about are peculiar and personal and geeky, about information, non-linearity, generative and locative dimensions to narrative.
Changing perceptions: I'm struck by how I used to be reluctant to push the agenda before I came out, for fear of 'splaining', or 'speaking for' the groups I supported. Now I feel awkward that I am only speaking in terms of self-interest or tribalism. I work with and for groups that are lobbying and active in areas of LGBTI, Disabled-Rights, neuro-diversity and mental health support. I work within Google on similar issues. Particularly trans issues like healthcare and representation (emoji!).
Words to describe me: Curious and tangential.
DOW Chemicals Australia
Chief Executive Officer
DOW Chemicals Australia
"Be confident in who you are and embrace and champion the uniqueness that is you!"
Louis has advanced through a variety of roles in executive management, corporate strategy, business development through to marketing, public and government affairs. As an officer and member of the Board of Directors for both GLAAD and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute, 30% Club and others, Louis helps to drive LGBTI and gender equality across the globe, by leveraging his substantial corporate and political experience towards the critical missions of leading organisations.
Greatest role models: Everyone who has encouraged me along the way and has steered me into the right direction to achieve my full potential; my parents and family, close friends, current and former bosses. The sky really is the limit when those around you keep saying yes you can versus no you can't.
Career advice: Bring your passion to all that you do and whatever your measure of success is, you'll achieve it. Be confident in who you are and embrace and champion the uniqueness that is you! The less you worry about what people are thinking of you and the more you hold yourself accountable to be the best at the task at hand, the greater your chance of success. Trying to be what you aren't will be your downfall; not because you're LGBTI, but because you were not bringing your true and authentic self forward. It is more exhausting being somebody you are not.
Motivations: Getting up each day with a sense of optimism, knowing that at the end of the day, even making a minor positive difference, counts. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to know that I have made an impact. My family is what drives me to be the change I want to see in the world and working for a company that mirrors my value set certainly helps bring it all together.
Changing perceptions: I just try to be myself, live authentically, and attempt to be free of worry about others' judgements. By doing so, I hope that other people can see that like them, I'm only human; with flaws, strengths, hopes and dreams. Perhaps by embracing who I am, it will allow those I interact with to see the similarities rather than differences.
Words to describe me: Passionate, enthusiastic and grateful.
Victoria Police Force
Assistant Commissioner, Western Region
Victoria Police Force
"You are terrific exactly as you are."
Tess has been a member of Victoria Police for 30 years where she has held positions leading metropolitan and regional teams through critical incidents and emergencies as they occur. Tess created and led the Safety, People, Culture Strategy, which aims to deepen the organisation's understanding about diversity and inclusion.
Inspiration: My parents have been my greatest role models and inspiration. My dad forged a great career in law after contracting polio as a child and not being able to farm the land as did his brothers. I've admired dad's strength living with a disability as he repeatedly overcame adversity. Mum was a primary school teacher before she started our family. She has a love of life which is great to be around. They bought us up with such a sense of social justice and the importance of doing the right thing and being good to each other. I am one of nine children and my brothers and sisters and their families play a key role in my life.
Career advice: You are terrific exactly as you are. I spent years as a young leader trying to emulate those around me who were successful. It took some work and a lot of self-reflection but once I had developed the confidence to lead in my own way, with my own style, accepting my own nuances I became a better person and a better leader.
Motivations: I am passionate about so many things. Work, family, justice, Collingwood Football Club (they're family aren't they?), racing, sport in general, travel, growing vegetables and the list goes on.
Changing perceptions: I think about the big issues and where my voice can be the most influential and when the time is right I will respectfully proffer a differing or alternate view to most.
Words to describe me: Passionate, loyal and funny – at least I think I'm funny.
Prism Venture Group Pty Ltd
Entrepreneur & Co-founder
Prism Venture Group Pty Ltd
"Being LBGTI is only part of who you are, it is not all that you are."
In 2012 Benjamin was appointed as the CEO of Taxi Council Queensland and steered the $1.5 bn Queensland Taxi Industry through some of the most turbulent times in its history. In 2017 he became one of the Principals of Prism Venture Group Pty Ltd, a management consulting public practice on the Gold Coast. Benjamin has always been open about his sexuality at work and strives to create an inclusive and accepting culture.
Greatest role model: Both of my parents have strong values and passed the same onto their children, encouraging us to be similarly independent. They were always, and remain, supportive of my career choices and whenever faced with a challenging decision I often think of my dad's sage words that “you'll never regret the things you do, but you may live to regret the things that you didn't do!”
Career advice: Being LGBTI is only part of who you are, it is not all that you are. Celebrate the things that make you different and unique as a person and take whatever adversity that you may face and turn it into a strength. Start your career with ambition and drive, be kind to people along the way, strive for excellence and you'll have a recipe for success, whatever that may mean for you.
Motivations: I've always believed that 'success breeds success'. I'm most passionate about achieving success for myself and for that to then be a beacon for others to achieve their own success. Each day I'm motivated to get out of bed to kick a goal that day, whether it is big or small.
Changing perceptions: I have focused in building a career that transcended my regional upbringings and that speak for my professionalism and work ethic. I believe that I, as everyone else, should be judged by the work we do, rather than by labels created by others. Gay is only a part of who I am, not the whole of who I am. By living by this principle, I have been able to greatly contribute to industries and sectors associated with traditional and even outdated gender stereotypes. I believe that through my work ethic and strong values I have, and continue to, change perceptions and hopefully serve as a role model for others.
Words to describe me: Passionate, driven and focused.
"It's so easy to stay in the fabulous LGBTI bubble socially , and work has given me the opportunity to meet and get to know straight people as well and to discover common ground and share experiences of parenting and relationships and life."
Lisa is Executive Director of The Conversation Media Group. Previously Lisa was the CEO of digital start-ups and tech businesses including Artshub, and General Manager of MyCareer Fairfax Digital. Lisa has always been out and open at work and has championed a culture of inclusiveness.
Greatest role model: I worked with Alan Schwartz, entrepreneur and investor and he gave me a copy of Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. The book concludes that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living: life never ceases to have meaning, and love is the highest goal to which we can aspire.
Career advice: Be open about your whole life early and start as you mean to continue. I found being Chair of the Board for Midsumma for five years helped merge my work/life identity, so I'd really recommend doing something for the LBGTI community as well as having a focus on a career.
Passions: I've loved all my jobs but right now I am passionate about The Conversation – a new way of doing journalism using only experts at universities. We started in Melbourne and now have expanded to Boston, London, Paris, Johannesburg, Toronto, New Zealand and Jakarta. I'm also passionate about watching RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars with my beautiful partner Lee, amazing daughter Hazel, and getting the lawns as green and lush as possible.
Changing perceptions: It's so easy to stay in the fabulous LGBTI bubble socially, and work has given me the opportunity to meet and get to know straight people as well and to discover common ground and share experiences of parenting and relationships and life.
Words to describe me: Optimistic, philosophical and fun.
Australian Labor Party
South Australian Labor Senator
Australian Labor Party
"I have always sought to be judged by what I do, not who I am."
Penny was the first openly gay woman, and the first Asian born female, elected to the federal parliament. She was the first openly lesbian Australian Cabinet Minister serving as Australia's first Minister for Climate Change and Water and then Minister for Finance. In her first speech, Penny spoke of the need to build a nation “in which all Australians can share regardless of race or gender, or other attribute … and where difference is not a basis for exclusion.”
Greatest role model: I've been lucky to have many great role models and mentors in my life. I've learnt a lot from my parents, both remarkable people. My single greatest inspiration is my grandmother, or Poh Poh as I called her in her language. Poh Poh was a Chinese woman of Hakka descent. When the war came to Malaysia, she and the rest of the family were in Sandakan. Most of the family died during the war and she was left alone to care for my father and his siblings in unspeakable circumstances, which she did through extraordinary determination and a will to survive. She was barely literate, humble and compassionate and the strongest person I have ever known.
Career advice: Advice I got early in my career and that I share with young people is to be true to yourself and to find your own voice.
Motivations: My formative experience of discrimination on the basis of my race left an indelible mark on me. I don't believe we should tolerate or accept inequality or discrimination. This belief has driven me through my career.
Changing perceptions: How I have helped to challenge or change perceptions in politics is probably for others to say. My intention was never to challenge or change perceptions, but to fight inequality and help to create positive change. I have always sought to be judged by what I do, not who I am.
Words to describe me: Determined, impatient and kind.