Monash social justice initiative honoured with global award

Prof Nicholas McGuigan, Dr Lisa Powell and Dr Allessandro Ghio

The Monash Business School has been recognised globally for its social justice and equity initiative, which seeks to promote and advocate for LGBTQI+ visibility and leadership potential within the accounting industry.

Launched in 2017 by Professor Nicholas McGuigan, Dr Lisa Powell and Dr Alessandro Ghio and (pictured L-R) Queering Accounting has been awarded a silver medal in the ‘The Best Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative’ category of the AMBA and BGA Excellence Awards 2021.

An initiative of global accrediting body the Association of MBAs (AMBA), and in partnership with the Business Graduates Association (BGA), the awards celebrate excellence and achievement among international business schools, business students and graduates, suppliers and employers.

The Monash Business School is accredited by the Association of MBAs as part of its coveted ‘triple accreditation’, along with the Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS).

Queering Accounting works across the business school to create space for diverse staff, students and industry to raise awareness and come together to facilitate diversity, equity and social justice best practice.

“We choose to do this in playful ways that celebrate the connection of corporate business and the arts, facilitating interdisciplinary perspectives and stimulating forward-thinking discussion," says Associate Professor Nick McGuigan.

So far, Queer Accounting has partnered with Sydney-based arts collective FrontYard Projects to host an artist-in-residency, as well as video installation and public events. Drag performing artist Karen from Finance also joined Queering Accounting to host a Pride-in-Business Charity Gala Dinner that brought together LGBTQI+ students, academics and practitioners.

“The accounting profession is slowly changing and starting to open workplaces to diverse voices,” adds Dr Alessandro Ghio. “But it is not enough to sponsor diverse events and make statements on websites. Queering Accounting is about reaching out, working collaboratively across industry and university sectors to effect cultural change. Only in this way, can we achieve equity, diversity and social justice across our profession."

The impact of the initiative is significant across Monash students, staff and the wider accounting profession, the organisers say. The team have been approached externally to run events for student leader groups in Melbourne and Sydney and work with professional organisations such as Pride in Practice to attract leaders from across the water, defence, human resources, engineering, hospitality and mining industries.

Queering Accounting is featured on Indeqx, an online directory listing LGBTIQ+ community organisations across Australia; partnered with PwC and American Accounting Association for a pride event in San Francisco in 2019; and has created a call for research on ‘Diversity, Equity and Social Justice in accounting education’.

The initiative contributes to the Monash University Diversity and Inclusion Framework by supporting LGBTQI+ students and staff to enhance cohesion and develop a strong and diverse community. By focusing on education, environment and community, Queering Accounting demands visibility, creates an integrated community and empowers queer voices across diverse formal and informal spaces.

"As educators we acknowledge that each student brings with them their own unique lived experiences and identities,” says Dr Lisa Powell. “Opening space for diverse identities allows all students the freedom to be their authentic selves. Celebrating this diversity and authenticity, and providing LGBTQI+ representation, further promotes a sense of belonging so that all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential."