Diversity is a popular subject these days. It is normally a pure gender issue, where the focus is centred around the lack of female participation in Boards of Directors in publicly listed companies. This is for sure an issue. We cannot continue to exclude 50% of our population when appointing Board members, but is this what diversity really is about?
In addition to the fact that women are at least as intelligent and competent as men (education wise they are on a much higher level in many countries), they think differently. If our final customers are 50% women, this is important. The reason for promoting diversity, is to be able to meet as many different demands as possible.
In the past companies used to be local, national then international, multinational and today they are global. As global companies, we have business 24/7/365 in all parts of the world. Our customers have different behaviours and different ways of thinking based on (among others), their cultural environment. Furthermore, our end customers are probably more or less 50% women, others are gay, strict religious people and some of them physically or mentally disabled. Main portion of all people on earth lives in developing countries – a waste majority are below 30 years old. This is diversity in its true form.
If we agree that this is a reality facing many global companies, it would be rather naive to think that the management or Board of Directors in such companies can be 100% middle age, white Caucasians and all men. By the simple fact that if we want to be able to understand and meet the needs of as many customers as possible, we also need to have a diversified management. It is not only a gender issue but maybe that´s where we must start.
There are many studies showing that companies with diversity inside their management and Boards, are more profitable than companies without. In my opinion, this comes out of doing more efficient Business Intelligence.
It is not enough to just realize that we have a need for diversity, we also need to prepare for it. If we have a lack of female Board Directors, we cannot just put anyone into the Board because she is a woman. To be a Board member, you need substantial experience from line management. If we are not prepared to put women in line management positions from the bottom up, we will never have competent female Board members. The same goes for people with different backgrounds. If a global company wants Board members representing developing countries, we need to give young Africans, South Americans or Asians the chance to be line managers long before they need to be ready to serve in a Board. For sure not all recruitments need to be from internal sourcing, but there is a clear signal effect in every organization, given by the actions we choose to take. In a truly global company this is a natural part of corporate culture. As a head-hunter, we need to work accordingly.,
In Creative Search, we always work with a ”diversity” aspect. It is important for us always to give our clients as much choices as possible. Diversity is a normal part of our process. Is it also a normal part of yours? If not – you better re-consider.