Today diversity and gender equality in the workplace are under increasing scrutiny. Companies are focusing efforts on issues like how to increase and manage a diverse workforce and encourage sensitivity to it. Recent reports support the correlation between diversity, financial performance and business innovation. The Leasing industry is not indifferent to the diversity and gender issue. In January, we had the opportunity of participating in a workshop under the theme of Unconscious Bias in the workplace. Here is what we learnt during this workshop and what organisations can do to tackle it.
Diversity, Business Innovation And Financial PerformanceGender equality was a focus at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, leading conversation under the trending hashtags #genderequality. Despite quotas being introduced to increase the number of female delegates attending the WEF, just 21% of some 3,000 delegates are women. For the first time in its 47-year history, the World Economic Forum’s gathering of predominantly elite men will be chaired entirely by women. Seven women were chosen to lead the meeting coming from all sectors of society, from the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, to Chetna Sinha, an Indian social entrepreneur focused on micro-finance for female entrepreneurs, will shape the program and lead discussions and panels. Another sign of change: Women were picked to fill 36% of the 397 S&P 500 board seats that became open in the 2017 proxy season, a bigger share than prior years.
The financial advisory firms, Merrill Lynch, promotes the integration of gender lenses into investment analysis, evaluating investments from the perspectives of diversity and gender can drive value. Jackie VanderBrug, Investment Strategist and Co-chair of the Impact Investing Council, Global Wealth and Investment Management Chief Investment Office, explains, “It’s a way to leverage the market to support progress towards gender equality-in the workplace, the supply chain, the consumer market, and elsewhere,” she says. “And simultaneously it’s a way to identify areas of opportunity in the search for enhanced investment returns, sustainable growth and lower risk.”
According to the “Delivering through diversity” report by McKinsey, published this January, a business is likely to perform better financially if its workforce is more diverse. According to the McKinsey research, companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the executive level are 33 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. Gender diversity mirrors these numbers, with companies in the top quartile for gender diversity being 21 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. When analysing industries, in the top quartile financial services are overrepresented for gender diversity.
Another study by Boston Consulting Group, How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation, supports this correlation between the diversity of management teams and overall innovation. The report shows that companies with above-average diversity on their leadership teams report a higher payoff from innovation and EBIT margins. Companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity-45% of total revenue versus just 26%. The study also found that implementing small changes in the constitution of the management team can make a lasting impact.
Diversity in The Leasing Industry
The Leasing industry is not indifferent to the diversity and gender issue. In January, we had the opportunity of participating in a workshop under the theme of Unconscious Bias in the workplace. This event kicked off the Diversity and inclusion initiative of the Leasing Foundation, led by Carol Roberts (Chair of the Leasing Foundation), Jo Davis (Locke Lord) and Emma Thomas (Siemens Financial Services, pictured left). The Diversity and Inclusion initiative from The Leasing Foundation, encompasses sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, mental health, disability, age and helps companies in the leasing industry to understand the business benefits of building inclusive leadership, management, organisations and teams. The initiative aims to help embed inclusion and diversity into hiring, performance management, succession management, leadership development and learning.
What Is Unconscious Bias And What Your Organisation Can Do to Tackle It?Unconscious bias causes people to favour some groups over others unintentionally and can lead to differences in who is recruited, who is offered new opportunities, and whose voice is listened to. Understanding and mitigating the impact of unconscious bias is a crucial leadership skill.
Becoming aware of unconscious bias, and creating actionable steps to manage it, is a vital step in building workplaces that are innovative, dynamic, and inclusive. The workshop discussed practical solutions to recognise and tackle these biases to build working environments that are more inclusive. The role of unconscious bias in the workplace can lead to impairments in judgement and a lack of equal opportunity. This workshop facilitated by Emma Thomas from Siemens Financial Services highlighted the need to educate ourselves and our leadership teams in unconscious bias, to encourage all managers to be transparent and honest about their decisions. Transparency and awareness of unconscious bias allow us to validate we have chosen the best team, hired or promoted the right candidate, these are the best people to deliver and achieve our business strategy.
If a person feels left out of a team or doesn’t understand why they didn’t get the promotion, managers can have the sensitive discussion of how they might be selected next time rather than refer a person to a policy document or the HR manager.
ConclusionThe WEF Global Gender Gap Index 2017 highlights that countries that want to remain competitive and inclusive will need to make gender equality a critical part of their nation’s human capital development.
Overall, these works shed light on how companies can use diversity and gender equality as an enabler of business impact. The numbers sustaining the promotion of diversity continues to be compelling, encouraging businesses to examine the case of inclusion and craft a tailored approach according to their own business intrinsic to becoming more innovative.
Photo credit: Emma Thomas from Siemens Financial Services facilitating the Unconscious Bias workshop at Metro Bank offices in London.
VIP Apps Consulting team has extensive experience within the leasing financial services industry with the knowledge, capabilities and operational experience, to help organisations assess and implement the required process changes. Keep up to date with the latest technology trends and other industry news by following us on LinkedIn