“Diversity is the art of thinking independently together”, said Malcom Forbes the legendary founder of Forbes magazine. In recent times, more and more companies have seen the benefits of adopting a recruitment policy reflecting Forbes’ observation.
Earlier this year, a report by McKinsey & Co found that companies with greater gender and cultural diversity financially outperform organisations that are less diverse. The study, which gathered information from 1,000 companies across 12 countries, highlighted the success of firms which exhibited diversity in their executive teams.
Such diversity across the C-suite not only brings together the thought process to which Forbes refers, but in a global marketplace also offers a better understanding of the customer base, enhancing business opportunity. In international markets, what sells well domestically may not be one of the items or services which sell well abroad. Having executives who understand the culture of those markets can only help to drive profitability.
Interestingly, Davey Lynch Treasury Talent has seen a noticeable increase in diversity being driven in treasury recruitment processes during 2018. Given the fact treasury is a male dominated sector getting a request from HR to include females on any shortlist is not uncommon, but not always easy to deliver. However, the evidence that diversity is being driven in treasury recruitment comes more from the CFO and treasurer community and their requests for what they are looking for in their teams.
Such examples are explicit mandates where a listed property group specifically requested a female treasurer was required, a leading university specifically targeted hiring a foreign treasury manager – to bring international experience to the team, likewise a younger treasurer looking to bring in a mature hire to add experience to the team.
Evidence suggests that companies are finding that an inclusive and culturally diverse workforce, capable of voicing different perspectives, leads ultimately to better decision-making. A broader executive base means a move away from old-school thinking and a break-up of the homogenous thinking which may involve ingrained bias and which can compromise business decisions.
Research shows that when employees approach challenges from a different perspective, creative solutions can be the result. Such an approach can increase innovation and deliver market growth.
From a recruitment point of view, the target of a diverse workforce means a deeper talent pool and increased employee satisfaction. In both cases, diversification becomes a must-have for a company to thrive in the modern business world.
Taking advantage of a diverse employment policy will bring challenges as well as potential benefits. There will inevitably be a transitional period wherein old working practices will need to be adjusted in order to avoid tensions and conflict in decision-making. Cultures can clash and management needs to buy into educating employees if diversity is to succeed.
There may also be short-term costs associated with expanding and deepening the cultural make-up of the workplace. Diversity comes in many shapes and sizes including gender, race, religion and disabilities and most companies will be familiar with existing legal requirements which may involve hidden costs. The short-term hurdles should not get in the way of the benefits that the research into the subject clearly indicates.
Higher base pay
There are several areas of which Human Resources and recruiters need to be aware which can help to smooth the transition.
Acceptance and respect are vital in a diverse workplace and to alleviate any problems, the introduction of diversity training may help employees understand the challenges and embrace change. Examples of successful diversity employment practices will also foster an understanding of the firm’s updated approach.
In addition to racial and religious diversity gender equality has increasingly been hitting the headlines, with the number of women in executive positions being highlighted. Surveys suggest men are still more likely to be hired ahead of women in such circumstances and earn a higher base pay than women in a comparable position. Legislation in many countries is redressing this problem. Increasingly progressive employers are in the vanguard of change, again promoting the cause of diversity.
Another area of concern relates to disabled employees who may need accommodating within the workplace to ensure they are comfortable there. Some issues such as ramps for wheelchairs are a relatively simple solution, but there may be other changes that could be made for employees with disabilities and these need to be taken on board.
Finally, recruiters are often asked to tackle the generation gap when seeking out potential candidates. Millennials are increasingly making up a larger proportion of the workforce and will soon be finding their way into more senior positions. Once they do so, they will inevitably impact upon the culture of the C-suite. Employees from older generations can find this difficult, but as Fintech becomes ever more pervasive in financial institutions and company finance departments, the arrival of younger staff is imminent if not already underway.
To ensure the best possible outcome, it is vital to avoid cliques developing which can isolate some employees. Companies need to ensure that they create an open communication culture to bridge the gap between generations. Although this transition may be difficult, firms around the world are making moves to broaden their employee base and are being rewarded for their effort.
Simon Lynch is the owner of Treasury Talent.
Treasury Talent is a specialist treasury talent, recruitment and search provider solely focussed on the treasury market with offices in Sydney covering Australia, Singapore covering Asia, and San Francisco covering California and the USA. To make contact firstname.lastname@example.org