VIEW: Diversity is not just about how one looks

Madison Page is a proud Wiradjuri woman, currently working in the construction industry as a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Advisor, while also modelling with WINK models. In this interview, Madison outlines her broad-ranging career, from studying marine biology to working with Aboriginal business leaders, as well as her views on diversity – or lack thereof – in the modelling industry.

  • As a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) advisor, what does your day-to-day look like?

Each day is really different which is why I love it so much. I spend a lot of my time working on tenders and projects coming up with different engagement strategies to ensure we are providing equal opportunity to minority groups. The main minority focus group is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people not only because I, myself, am an Aboriginal woman but because we are mandated by a policy called the ‘Aboriginal Participation in Construction Policy’. I also work a lot with keeping relationships with Aboriginal businesses and Social Enterprises to ensure they are given the opportunity to work on our projects. 

  • What initially drove you to pursue a career in D&I, and how has your interest in this field evolved over time?

Funny story actually! I had studied Marine Biology at university and when applying for an Environmental role at my company I was given the opportunity to work in the D&I space given my previous work experience. I jumped at the idea as any opportunity not taken is wasted. I fell in love with making a difference in people’s lives and encouraging an inclusive workplace. There’s a lot of work that needs doing in the D&I space to break various stigmas and shift ancient mindsets, so it’s a challenge. For now I’m super passionate about what I can do to make things business as usual in the space and encourage change. 

  • You also have a modelling career – what have been your experiences as a Wiradjuri woman in the modelling industry and how do you think the industry currently responds to or embraces diversity?

Since I am white-passing and have been told a lot I look Asian, I have been cast in Asian roles. I understand the industry is very based on looks however, I am not an accurate portrayal of an Asian girl. I think this is where the industry misses the mark.

Diversity is not just about how one looks. When people from different cultural backgrounds come together you get a ‘diversity of thought’. Understandably, the modelling industry does not really require one to ‘think’ per se but it should have accurate representation and equal opportunity for cultures. I have felt terrible for taking opportunities for work from girls who are Asian and have felt very out place when on those jobs. 

  • If you could change one thing about the modelling industry, what would it be? Why?

It would be how biased it is. But every industry has a bias. It’s whether you know someone, how many Instagram followers you have, your height, your shape, your measurements, your look. Granted each client has different requirements but it can be so hard to get your foot in the door when subconscious bias is a thing. 

  • Who are your greatest role models, and what influence have they had on your life?

Growing up I loved Jessica Mauboy because she was an Aboriginal woman who made a name for herself and at the time I wanted to be a professional singer, so it seemed to fit. More so now, it’s my mum. She managed to juggle being a single mum and raising two kids. She’s showed me how to be independent and to work for what you want. 

About the expert

Madii is 23 years old and a Wiradjuri woman who has grown up in Sydney, Australia. She is currently working as the Diversity and Inclusion Advisor for NSW/ACT at a construction company and has worked in the modelling industry. She loves spending my time in the ocean and with friends, and is passionate about making a difference to people and to the planet.