Vik Bansal, CEO of Cleanaway Waste Management, has a clear message to executive recruitment firms engaged by his company. “I always say, ‘I don’t care if it’s men or women, young or old, or the colour of their skin – you need to give me diverse candidates. That’s what I’m looking for.’ But if I don’t say that, it doesn’t happen.”
He has recently taken a public stance on cultural diversity. “Up until now, I avoided these conversations but as my daughter grows up, I understand why diversity is important. Someone once told me, ‘You have to be 20 per cent better because you start off behind.’ I don’t want her to face that. I live and breathe that all the time and I think there’s a time for everything.”
Growing up in North India, Bansal faced a sliding-doors moment when deciding to move overseas for more opportunity. He completed an MBA at Deakin University in Melbourne before moving into roles in Australia and the United States.
“I went into business and worked for global companies that had a global mindset on diversity. In the US, I was fascinated that, for the first time, the colour of my skin and background became my leverage point. Now people are coming through the ranks and executives are seeing the benefits of diversity. It will move things.”
Bansal has some empathy for the 65-yearold male board member who, for his entire life, has been operating in a situation where 95 per cent of people are like him. “You need to work on yourself to change your biases. Where I become frustrated is where people don’t make an effort to listen.”