The Bottom Line on Diversity15 Oct 2013
Leadership Diversity is about more than more women on Boards, writes Alex Evans
Thanks to Lord Davies, McKinsey and Cranfield, it is widely accepted that Boards, particularly at the FTSE level, need more women on them – but is this true leadership diversity and would it enable the greatest improvement across all key metrics (ie profit, engagement, innovation, sustainability, etc)?
The Leadership Diversity Award, introduced in 2012, recognises those investing in processes, policies and culture to enable greater diversity at executive level - and demonstrating the positive impact this is having on commercial performance. Eversheds won this inaugural award because it not only showed how it had increased leadership diversity across gender, race and social mobility but, crucially, how it had helped it win and retain clients while attracting talent.
Demonstrating that diversity is about creating an organisation that reflects their customer base, finalists for this year’s award highlight the variety of ways that leadership diversity impacts the bottom line.
Procter & Gamble (P&G) is the world’s largest and most profitable consumer packaged goods company, with more than $84 billion in annual sales. It employs over 5,000 people in the UK and Ireland, where 98% of households have at least one P&G brand.
Since the majority of P&G customers are women, its diversity activity has tended to focus on gender – with its first ever Diversity & Inclusion Report, published last year, highlighting results and initiatives supporting gender diversity (such as mentoring, flexibility, and diversity of women).
“We know that diverse teams are more successful at delivering results,” says Irwin Lee, Vice President & Managing Director, Procter & Gamble UK/Ireland. “They better represent the people we seek to serve; they challenge the established status quo, think in new creative ways and conceive the best strategies to win in an ever-changing market.
“We need the best leaders, the best thinkers, the best collaborators and the best innovators to succeed. We need to celebrate all the visible and invisible differences and leverage diversity as a positive business advantage. Our job is to understand and remove all the barriers that are preventing the best talent getting the best jobs as well as the barriers that stop them performing at their best once in role.”
Inclusion, not representation
Unconscious bias training – from frontline managers to boards – is addressing the invisible barriers from recruitment to promotion. Executive level committees and champions are embedding diversity measures in leadership objectives while positioning their organisations as an employer of choice (interestingly, P&G’s Chief Policy Officer and Accenture’s Chief Leadership Officer are both based in the UK).
This year’s finalists have shown that a diverse culture is based on inclusion, not mere representation, creating a meritocracy supported by training to enhance key skills and traits.
People are central to the success of global professional services firm Accenture, which also consults on Inclusion & Diversity. “A diverse workforce with a breadth of thought leadership, a fresh perspective on things, the ability to challenge conventional ways of working, and bringing innovation to life are critical not simply in doing what we do, but also in differentiating us and providing a competitive advantage,” says Olly Benzecry, Managing Director, United Kingdom & Ireland. “Our programmes are targeted at creating a culture where each employee can bring their whole self to work and where uniqueness, in whatever form it takes, is valued.”
Employing 70,000 staff in the UK and Europe, outsourcing firm MITIE is also a people business. “Having the right mix of people on board is integral to our success, and we wouldn’t have got to where we are today had we not taken some risks along the way,” says Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, Chief Executive of MITIE – voted Orange Leader of the Year in 2011, awarded the CBE in the 2012 Honours List for services to business and diversity in business, and appointed Chair of the Women’s Business Council by Home Secretary Theresa May in March 2012.
“The time and resources that we invest to attract and retain the best talent has enabled us to grow our business every year for the last 26 years – one of only two companies in the FTSE250 to do so. Along with a dividend that has grown every year since we started, that’s a return on investment our shareholders truly value.”
Finalists for the Leadership Diversity Award present the strongest counter-argument to quotas by demonstrating the commercial benefit of investing in people from all backgrounds.
To be amongst the first to find out which of the ten pioneering finalists wins this award, book your place at the National Business Awards Gala Dinner on 12th November – where 1,200 business leaders and influencers will gather at the Grosvenor, Park Lane, London to celebrate enterprise excellence. Visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk for more details.