“I live with the knowledge I have one life and every morning I wake up, I ensure what I’m doing is leading towards something meaningful and impactful”.
Dai Le is a mother, girlboss, advocate and all round inspiration.
Founder of DAWN – the Australian voice for diversity and inclusion, Dai strives to connect emerging leaders from culturally diverse backgrounds to those seen as "Leaders" in mainstream business.
Ultimately, she seeks to unlock the talent of these emerging leaders and build their confidence to step into leadership roles that will help Australia grow and prosper.
“My challenge is to identify promising individuals and showcase their talents and contributions, to show the country what they have to offer.”
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Dai spent years in refugee camps in South East Asia before being resettled alongside her mother and two younger sisters in Australia in 1979.
In her former life as a journalist with the ABC and an independent film maker, Dai was the first to note she was the only Asian Australian Female in the media industry at the time. Later when she stepped into politics Dai was one of the first high profile Asian Australian females with a refugee background to campaign in a lower house seat in the New South Wales Parliament in a sea of white, Anglo-Saxon, male faces in politics.
As a result Dai has a unique understanding of the challenges that people of culturally diverse backgrounds face in business.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, Dai was prompted to revaluate her life and what she values.
The sudden realisation she wasn’t invincible and life was in fact finite was a wake-up call for Dai.
“Cancer was a reality check, it made me realise I needed to make the most of now and do something meaningful.”
In starting DAWN, Dai intended to create a safe space for Asian female professionals to come together and share personal and professional challenges.
As her leadership conversation series began, Dai found there was just as many men of culturally diverse backgrounds in attendance as women. As a result she recognised there were as many challenges and barriers for people of culturally diverse backgrounds beyond the gender issue.
The lack of women in leadership has been a focus for society in the past decade or more. It was an easy issue to identify and slowly we are seeing more women appointed to boards as well as to senior leadership roles.
Now the conversation has shifted to be that of the ethnic composition of companies, that culturally diverse representation in leadership roles across the country are not reflective of society.
Dai has found companies that embrace diversity are more successful in the long run, when they embrace individuals with different skill sets and backgrounds, customer and workplace loyalty is improved, this translates to business success.
“Organisations with a fantastic ethnic composition have 35% more success in their bottom line.”
Now, as an advocate for equal opportunities Dai seeks to inspire the next generation of “new” Australians.
“Refugees and those of different backgrounds might feel they’re not god enough or not have much to offer. Think again. We need to find that unique leadership and skill set in each person because it does exist in each and every one of us.”
“Do what you love to do and be prepared to fail. Only through that will you build true resilience.”
What does being a Betty Tran Woman mean to Dai?
Being a Betty Tran woman means being elegantly, and powerfully resilient. When I wear Betty Tran's outfit, I feel I can embrace my femininity, my womanhood, and have the confidence and resilience to tackle whatever life throws at me.