Deborah May

Deborah May


Connect on LinkedIn Get in touch
Back to all people
Deborah is a diversity and inclusion practitioner and change agent with over 20 years’ experience. She is regarded as an expert in the complex nature of unconscious bias and its impact on thinking, decision-making and assessments of people that impede creativity, innovation, and the development of effective policy and programs. Deborah assists organisations and communities leverage the full diversity of talent, perspectives and experiences of people from all demographic backgrounds so that they can achieve their individual and collective potential.

Influential work

  • Played a pivotal role working with senior public sector leaders and male champions of change to create awareness, galvanise change and improve gender equity and inclusive work practices across the Australian Public Service (APS)
  • Led audits and reviews across APS agencies to identify unconscious bias and discriminatory practices affecting opportunities for women and people from diverse backgrounds; informing equality, diversity and inclusion strategies
  • Undertook a national inclusivity review of the Australian Border Force, leading to organisational reform
  • Developed and delivered an organisation-wide leadership program for Department of Defence senior executives that informed One Defence Leadership Behaviours Standards
  • Led University of Canberra research across six APS agencies to determine factors affecting women’s progression into the Senior Executive Service, culminating in a co-authored Australian and New Zealand School of Government report, Not Yet 50/50.

Outside of Nous

Deborah’s passion and commitment to social justice and equality informs her work and life. Before joining Nous she was the managing director of The May Group, a diversity and inclusion consulting company she founded in 1998. In addition to client engagements, Deborah published a popular e-news magazine, ‘Advancing Women’; developed the Advancing Women Website and Resource Hub; and coached and developed hundreds of women leaders and aspirants. She is a regular blog writer and speaker on unconscious bias, gender and diversity.

Recently Deborah joined as a volunteer peer phone counsellor for Switchboard Victoria, a community-based organisation that provides peer-based, volunteer-run support services for LGBTIQ+ people and their friends, families and allies. She is now deputy chair.

Deborah holds a Master of Business Administration from Simmons Graduate School of Management in Boston, Masachusetts and Bachelors of Arts and Laws from the Australian National University. She is also an honorary fellow of the Institute of Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra and a fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

In her spare time...

Deborah is a keen dragon boat paddler, competing in national and international events. She meditates daily, writes, reads and cooks. She is the mother/stepmother of three wonderful young adults.