Embrace diversity and get ahead of the pack: Demetriou to address equality conference

25 July 2011

Australian Football League CEO, Andrew Demetriou, will use his address at a conference tomorrow to share his thoughts on how diversity can give organisations a competitive edge.

“Embracing diversity and ensuring people of all walks of life have an opportunity to enjoy our game. We like to think these are now part of the AFL’s DNA,” Mr Demetriou said.

Hosted by the Human Rights Law Centre, the conference focuses on reforming Australia’s equality laws and features a number of local and international experts in the area including:
Dimitrina Petrova, Equal Rights Trust; Catherine Branson, Australian Human Rights Commission; Dr Helen Szoke, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission; Bill Shorten, MP, Assistant Treasurer; Helen Conway, Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency; Corey Irlam, Australian Coalition for Equality.

Telstra’s HR Manager Diversity, Troy Roderick, will also address the conference. Telstra is an early adopter of the ASX Recommendations on gender equality and in 2010 became the first Australian company to win the prestigious Catalyst Award, an annual international award for initiatives that support and advance women in business. Telstra is also in the Top 5 companies for GLBTI Inclusion in the 2011 Australian Workplace Equality Index.

Having a diverse range of employees better enables Telstra to provide the best service to our customers. It enables us to foster greater innovation, stronger problem solving capability, greater customer connection, increased morale, motivation and engagement. Being diverse and inclusive is who we are at Telstra,” Mr Roderick said.

The HRLC’s Anna Brown said there are a number of standout examples of the business sector showing leadership in pursuing equality.

 “To tackle discrimination you need to be proactive. The businesses that have excelled in this area have really been on the front foot. They recognise the inherent value of pursuing equality and go above and beyond the legal minimum obligations. The time has come for the Australian Government to update its equality laws to better reflect the community’s values. It’s a fantastic opportunity to address the gaps in the law and strengthen protections,” Ms Brown said.

As the Australian Government prepares to consolidate various federal anti-discrimination laws into a single Act, the Human Rights Law Centre is hosting the conference to encourage and inform debate on this ‘consolidation project’. The conference has been funded by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and will provide an opportunity for representatives from NGOs, business, government, members of the legal profession, academics, regulators and policy makers to share ideas and help shape Australia's future equality laws.

Ms Brown said studies such as those by guest speakers Professor Kate Pickett and Emeritus Professor Richard Wilkinson, have shown that the benefits of equitable societies are not limited to individuals.

The conference runs between 8:45am and 5:15pm on Tuesday 26 July 2011 at Storey Hall, RMIT in Melbourne. The full program can be found at:

For further information contact Tom Clarke on 0422 545 763 or

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