As a CEO in a traditionally male dominated industry, I’ve always found it important to be a strong role model for a diverse and inclusive workforce. We all agree that everybody deserves the same career opportunities, regardless of one’s gender, ethical background, religion etc. Creating a diverse and inclusive workforce has progressively become more important in our industry. And gender equality is a big topic within the diversity and inclusion discussion. But is this happening for ethical or business reasons? Research suggests the latter, as it appears that gender-diverse organisations are more likely to be linked with companies with better financial performance, especially when it comes to board composition. Nevertheless, some argue that when such results are cleaned from various statistical bias factors, then the outcome would not suggest any substantial evidence. While it is hard to measure the impact of a more diverse workforce purely using quantitative metrics, practical experience does suggest that working in a truly inclusive environment makes a real difference. I feel that this is the case of our office. In the lights of International Men’s Day 2018, I’d like to share my experience and thought on diversity and inclusion as a leader of a global organisation. First, it is quite immediate that talent cannot come from people belonging to a single group of ethnicity, gender or social cultural background. A more inclusive organisation is an organisation with access to more and better talent. Global megatrends such as technological innovation, shifts in economic power and demographic and social change are rapidly changing our industry. This makes it increasingly more challenging to recruit and retain top talent in an already highly competitive environment. Adopting an inclusive mindset when it comes to your workforce seems to me like the most natural and logic thing to do to survive in this industry. The make-up of our office is highly diverse. Our team is made up out of multiple ethnicities, religious backgrounds and generations. For instance, when you spend the day in our office, you’ll likely hear us speak multiple languages throughout the day. Our office also employs more women than men. This is not because we must meet a specific female quota, but simply because our HLB women are the better people for the positions they are currently holding. Second, a more diverse central office has allowed us to improve as a team altogether and ultimately make better decisions. A more diverse team requires better listening skills from its members, as well as more commitment to learn from each other, which in turn makes us a progressively better group. In my experience, less diverse environments tend to suffer from the group-thinking phenomenon, whereby the desire to conform with the group and belong to the group can lead to irrational decision-making. When a team is more diverse, team members collectively can look at problems from multiple angles, leading to a more holistic approach to problem solving and therefore better decision-making as a result. Third, an inclusive organisation is a better organisation for its people. The subject is wider than gender equality per se, as it is linked with providing better working conditions for team members and taking better care of their own selves and their households. Flexible working has allowed our office, and many of our member firms, to successfully attract and retain talent and more importantly to allow that talent to thrive. Adjusting travel schedules, allowing home-working or part-time working is not just important for female team members coming back from maternity leave but for all members of your team. Life presents many difficult moments to all of us, so a talent-centric organisation like ours is better off adjusting its needs alongside those of its people. As the leader of HLB’s executive office, I truly believe that the diverse make-up and the inclusive spirit of our team leads to better performance and outcomes for HLB. I’ve always been and always will be an advocate for inclusion and flexible-working. People who are happy in their personal life, are in fact happier at work too.
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