40 years ago the business world would have been unwelcoming to you if you were born like me and wouldn’t lie about it, or if you were a woman, or a person of colour, or not of an Anglo faith, or if you had any level of otherness – the corporate world didn’t really want you.

But then 40 years ago something amazing happened.

40 years ago, an astoundingly brave group of men and women said enough! They risked their lives to demand an end to exclusion and persecution.

In 1978 the first Mardi Gras march took place in Sydney and – unbeknownst to them –  these human rights activists joined an evolution of what we now recognise as diversity.

We have evolved from a divided society into a united one.

We have evolved from narrow-mindedness to sophistication, from the merciless to the humane, from the parochial to the universal.

By validating diversity we have evolved from being restrictively insular to unlocking the expansiveness of all human potential.  We became limitless.

This is the 40 years of evolution that this year’s Mardi Gras is so rightly celebrating.

40years on and I get to express my profound gratitude to those fearless pioneers who challenged the status quo, who put themselves in danger for the greater good, who demanded their voices be heard so that we all may benefit from their legacy of a fairer, safer, kinder, and more human world.

The work is far from done. Now, it is up to us to continue the evolution. Last year’s victorious Yes campaign – which we and nearly everyone in the business community supported –  is a clear sign that the evolution is in good hands.

I am forever thankful that our world today is better because a handful of brave people refused to be excluded. Their voices joined a rising chorus that continues to power an agenda of diversity, of inclusion, of respect and most of all, freedom.

Have a safe and happy Mardi Gras

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