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"What About Me?" - When Your Employees Feel Disengaged by Diversity.

  • Corporate Branch | Department of Transport and Main Roads 61 Mary Street Brisbane Australia (map)

In the last few years we have seen a significant increase in the number of organisations focusing on creating more diverse and inclusive cultures. In the Australian context, and particularly here in Brisbane, we have found most organisations have begun this process by focusing on gender, LGBTQI and Indigenous engagement. Whilst we at the DPA celebrate numerous ground-breaking initiatives and policies progressing us towards greater inclusion, an interesting and counteracting phenomenon has recently been raising its head: Diversity backlash.

In recent times we have seen a stronger verbalisation of people’s uncertainty, discomfort and sometimes downright disagreement with the diversity focus. Employees, who don’t feel as though they belong to a diversity category, are voicing their frustrations with being left out.

In this Masterclass we will explore some of the factors contributing to diversity backlash and what we can do to engage all people in our organisations, whether they be from majority or minority groups. This event will showcase a fascinating group of panellists to discuss the work they have been doing to overcome resistance and demonstrate how a more diverse and inclusive culture benefits everyone, irrespective of the group they might identify with.

We are very pleased to announce that our panellists will include:

Rob Reed, MinterEllison  Special Councel, OAM

Rob is passionate about coordinating MinterEllison’s legal expertise and other resources to make a difference in the community. He was instrumental in developing the firm’s Community Investment Program and continue to manage the Brisbane office’s active involvement. This includes coordinating pro bono referrals, MinterEllison’s significant commitment to LawRight’s Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic (HPLC), and award-winning partnerships with organisations such as Glenala State High School and Australia’s CEO Challenge. Rob’s career has had many highlights, including winning the Queensland Law Society Individual Pro Bono Award in 2009 and was a finalist in the law category of the 2013 Human Rights Awards. With more than 15 years' experience in this area, Rob enjoys sharing his knowledge and strategies for effective community engagement and works collaboratively to find innovative ways to address pressing community issues.

Rachel Durdin, General Manager - Project Shaping, Growth & Innovation, Rio Tinto

Rachel has worked across a across a number of industries in both the private and public sector. She has held accountability for delivering varied business outcomes including project delivery, business improvements and mergers and acquisitions. She is currently Rio Tinto’s Growth and Innovation Project Shaping general manager working with product groups to identify acceptable project boundaries and scope aligned with the company’s strategy, priorities, and values. Rachel actively supports Rio Tinto's membership on the Australian Male Champions of Change group which is set up to materially shift the balance for gender equality in Australia. Her role is to leverage the membership and the work of other organisations to ensure Rio Tinto is an equal and safe workplace for all employees. She is also responsible for Rio Tinto’s recent achievement of becoming a White Ribbon Accredited Workplace and ongoing work in Domestic and Family Violence.

Dee Gibbons CSC OAM PhD, Director Workplace Diversity and Inclusion - University of Queensland.

Dr Deanne (Dee) Gibbon CSC leads staff Workplace Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Queensland and holds a PhD from the University of New South Wales. Deanne’s most recent role, before joining UQ, was as NATO’s Senior Gender Advisor to the Resolute Support Mission in Kabul, Afghanistan. Deanne has previously served as the Head of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office (SEMPRO) and the Project Director for the ADF’s Review into the Treatment of Women. She was also a founding member of the Australian Chief of Defence Force’s Gender Equity Advisory Board (GEAB), and Air Force’s inaugural Director of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion. Dee’s PhD studies focused on increasing women’s representation in deeply masculine occupations; the application of her findings resulted in more than doubling the number of women pilots in the Royal Australian Air Force within a four year period. In each of these roles, Dee faced high degrees of backlash towards diversity and inclusion outcomes and cultural reform activities; as such, she has become extremely adept at managing large-scale cultural change in potentially hostile contexts.

The panel discussion will be followed by a workshop segment giving you the opportunity to consider how you can best engage all members of your organisation to create sustainable inclusivity. 

This masterclass is suited for diversity and inclusion practitioners, leaders and influencers who are responsible for setting workplace culture. 


  • 2:45pm registration

  • 3:00pm masterclass commences

  • 4:30pm masterclass concludes.

Drinks and nibbles will be served during the masterclass. 

DPA would like to thank the Department of Transport and Main Roads for donating the venue space for this event. 

Secure your place here:

The Diversity Practitioners Association is proudly supported by Brisbane City Council, Cardno, Queensland Urban Utilities and Australia’s CEO Challenge


Earlier Event: July 12
DPA Open House
Later Event: September 20
Member Connect: Race, Culture & Religion