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Retention and Progression of women still needs to be addressed
Despite significant investment and profile, corporate Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) remains a war of attrition, with women leading only 4% of the world’s largest banks, 3% of food processing companies and 6% of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
In a recent white paper Chris Rowe, Global Head of Leathwaite’s HR Practice, examines the current state and some of the challenges associated with corporate Diversity & Inclusion, whilst concluding with suggested strategies for change.
Sadly, this does not paint a pretty picture.
- Within the 50 largest companies in the US & UK, mentions of Diversity within corporate reporting and female representation at a leadership level (Executive Committee & Board) in the same organizations are negatively correlated, implying that those who talk about D&I the most are often the least effective at embedding it at a senior level.
- Inclusion, the practical application of diversity or the “effective management of differences” remains critically misunderstood by many, with the assumption that simply having the right demographics alone is enough to harness the power of a diverse team.
- Unintended consequences of seemingly relentless messaging on corporate D&I include that of “D&I Fatigue”; wherein the apparent lack of progress leads to a level of inertia internally.
- Incumbent staff at a mid-senior level can also become disenfranchised by corporate D&I, when they perceive that their performance and promotion prospects are secondary to external candidates who “fit the bill”.
- Heads of Diversity & Inclusion, those at the vanguard of these efforts, need to be correctly positioned and adequately resourced to help drive change. However, both the positioning and the high demand for these skills dictate that this is a role perceived with mixed effectiveness and high turnover, with the average Head of D&I staying in their role a little over 2.5 years.
However, on a more positive note, Rowe does point out that:
- Despite these challenges, there remain a number of highly successful initiatives within the global market that indicate strides forward are being made, including the “Returnship” concept. Critical to the success of such schemes is the positioning that they are underpinned by live vacancies of actual corporate positions.
- Leveraging the contingent labour market (or “gig economy”), building agile organization structures and deploying co-headed functions at a senior level are also all mechanisms to drive a more diverse workforce.
Leathwaite was formed in 1999 and is a leading international firm of human capital specialists with offices in London, New York, Hong Kong and Zurich. With a leading reputation for delivering exceptional executive search, executive interim, management consultancy and market intelligence solutions, Leathwaite is seen as a partner of choice for some of the world’s most innovative and ambitious companies.