Is Your Company Leadership Diverse Enough?
Ensuring diversity in corporate executive management structures is an issue that has increased backing from EU legislative and regulatory bodies.
In fact, installation and promotion of diverse management teams is something that European Commission bodies promote through top-down methods. However, I feel it’s important that companies not look at diversity as a pseudo-issue forced on businesses by EU leaders. Rather, varied management teams with diverse gender, ethnic and cultural perspectives should be seen as tools for enhancing strategy development and problem-solving for companies working on increasingly globalized markets.
I first would like to point out where we’re at now from a regulatory perspective. In EU member-states, we see more frequent use of quotas and pushes for multicultural work environments. For example, by 2020, females should make up 30% of all candidates shortlisted for appointments to corporate or organizational management boards. The issue, however, for many companies is how to match regulatory idealism with reality. Currently, this is being done in a tactical way. Companies use natural attrition to fill in diversity gaps and increase diversity ratios.
The critical issue for businesses and organizations hoping to live up to EU ideals concerning diversity is how to manage executive searches on markets where the talent just isn’t readily available. When a sufficient number of candidates cannot be found, businesses face multiple obstacles: longer search periods, loss of quality candidates that don’t fit diversity objectives, etc. Bearing this is mind, the best strategy for businesses is to be pro-active. This includes developing and maintaining a database, for example, of the best female talent in a specific geographic area. Businesses need to screen in advance if such executive talent is mobile, i.e. are they willing to relocated. They should also pre-screen for competency matches, invite candidates in for pre-interviews and look for opportunities for onboarding.
At SpenglerFox, our experience is that roles that might support diversity strategies aren’t always available when a search is being done. So, we have helped many clients find ways to identify and nurture talent for future roles. In such cases, this can involve bringing in less-skilled talent for more junior roles and teaching them various managerial functions and rotating them through different positions. This usually involves taking half-a-year to explore internal options and bringing a new managerial recruit up-to-speed for handling an anticipated upper management or executive role. Such systems help promote business diversity and gender equality, while avoiding last-minute stress related to job searches that don’t bring immediate results. In some cases, where your business has the resources to do so, you can also bring in talent for roles that might not yet exist. After the skills-matching + onboarding period, you may find that these managers grow into a leadership role that you didn’t know your business needed.
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Global Practice Group Leader – Consumer & Retail