Interim leaders are critical appointments. They might revive a failing business or lead a project that enables an organisation to transition to a better future. Yet interims typically do not count towards diversity targets in pay gap numbers or other diversity reporting. Is diversity in this pool less important?
Diversity isn’t a numbers game – it’s a power game, and one that most companies are losing. Strong representation of women on boards has been achieved thanks to the rapid ascent of female NEDs. But for a company to be truly gender diverse, diverse groups must hold a healthy grip of the executive decision-making pendulum. Clearly that can only happen by gaining a more critical mass of such talent in the most powerful C-suite roles. So what’s holding companies back?
The Government backed Davies Review in 2011 followed by the Hampton-Alexander Review in 2016, successfully encouraged a voluntary effort to substantially increase the number of women on the boards of the FTSE 350 listed companies and this effort has cascaded down through AIM listed and the largest privately held companies. In 2012, only 12% of the FTSE 350 non-executive directors were women. Today, it is close to 40% and still increasing. While this success needs to recognised, it also masks a deeper problem. If companies can’t get on top of gender diversity, will they be able to succeed with other forms of diversity?
Why do clients value diversity and why is it so difficult? Our clients are continually asking us to focus on diversity – and within technology, particularly on gender diversity. Focusing on diversity just to box tick won’t get you very far, but an authentic, full-hearted commitment at the most senior levels of leadership will reap significant benefits for your company. We’ve compiled some practical advice on how organisations can address this ongoing issue.
Analysis of FTSE 100 & 250 appointments through 2018 showed that 62% of FTSE 100 board appointments in the second half of 2018 were women. But simply hitting a diversity target isn’t enough. Diversity requires diverse thought, experiences and opinions. With 10% of the workforce estimated as neurodivergent, and talent scarcity among the skills that some neurodivergent individuals excel at, for the organisations that are brave the potential upside is huge. So how can organisations build a more inclusive environment?
What we all suspected is now fully backed by all the stats – having diverse teams not only makes the workplace happier, but more productive and successful; your customers will feel a positive difference and ultimately, so will your P&L. What is equally true is that, whether our clients fully embrace the overwhelming evidence or whether they are simply following instructions from somewhere on high, gender balance is hugely important to them.
Diversity matters. It is important for humanity, for education and, most notably, for business. Diverse leadership teams ignite more creativity and innovation, with a range of backgrounds, experiences and mindsets all contributing to business, customer and product development. This, in turn, encourages and promotes more inclusive attitudes, which attract the top talent that every business needs for fast financial growth.
In a rush to bring diverse talent to an organisation, few stop to ask themselves why they are actually doing this. What is it about the sex or race of a particular candidate that makes them the best fit? What does the company hope to gain by seeking out a more diverse group of candidates in general?
Answering those important questions holds the key to unlocking the potential of a diverse organisation, and that requires redefining what diversity is.
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