THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR BETTER DIVERSITY

THREE THINGS WE NEED TO DO FOR BETTER DIVERSITY

 

We do not need a bunch of men or women pontificating about diversity. We need action.

Tip 1

If you’re speaking at a conference, ensure at least 30% of your fellow speakers are women. But more than that, make sure everyone speaking is credible and brings something interesting to the table. i.e. no tokenism. That doesn’t mean they have to be the CEO of a company that everyone knows. A different way of looking at things is great. The world needs all the fresh perspectives it can get!

 

Tip 2

Stop being lazy!

 

Great women exist, but it might take some work to find them. This is further exacerbated by the ‘noise’ of others and wrong metrics. For instance, just because someone has lots of followers on social media does not mean they are subject matter experts. It just might be a reflection of their ability to create and promote content (both of which can be outsourced). This is eclipsing great people. Dig deeper, get curious and shine a light into hidden crevices.

 

Tip 3

Leaders vs People in Positions of Power

 

This is a game changer! The word ‘leader’ is banded around to cover some of the most irresponsible and short-sighted humans on this
planet. In organisations, the word ‘leader’ is sometimes attached to those who navigated the corporate matrix to rise to the top. These are not examples of leaders. They are examples of people in positions of power. We must distinguish between the two.

 

Real leaders are:

 

  • Not necessarily the loudest in the room or the most gregarious
  • Considered and considerate
  • Reflective and think about the world around them beyond tomorrow
  • Collaborative and work beyond silos
  • Responsible with the discipline to think through potential consequences and seek better solutions
  • Able to navigate complexity and uncertainty
  • Human!

This needs to be our standard if we are to level the playing field for people from all cultures, genders, backgrounds and creeds.

 

 

N.B. There is a lot more complexity to this issue. If you’d like to know more, please send me a note, and I’d be happy to share insights, nuances and strategies.

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WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

  There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment when people hear I love working in the Middle East, for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

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WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment when people hear I love working in the Middle East, for the simple reason that I’m a woman.

I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East, therefore making it difficult to fathom how a woman could have a successful business. However, in my experience, there is a chasm between perception and reality, especially since the traits that seem to be more abundant amongst women, such as insight, intuition and inclusion, seem to be trusted and appreciated in the Middle East, enabling us to not only contribute but also play our role in business.

What I find strange and perplexing is some of the rhetoric around women and leadership. A case in point is an article that said 15% of Senior Leadership roles in the City of London were held by women and the majority of those by foreigners. The article went further by attributing this ‘fact’ to the foreign women’s swagger. The truth of the matter is, given London is a global financial centre, there is a strong likelihood that a senior leadership role will have a regional or global focus. If the potential candidates haven’t had any international experience, they don’t qualify, swagger or not.

That said, the ‘swagger’ comment got me thinking, and led me to reflect on the great Arab women I have had the privilege of interviewing and working with. They are highly intelligent, very well-educated and incredibly insightful – ingredients which are prevalent amongst many women around the world. They don’t seek to be liked but rather have the courage of their convictions. They don’t have to speak loudly or demand to be listened to, but they still have their views be known and considered. They tend to talk less and act more. They are compassionate and kind but don’t tolerate fools. Above all else, there is a particular ingredient in their presence and demeanour, described perfectly by a dear friend from the region – “we are salty, not sweet”.

 

From Segregation to Sisterhood

It’s fascinating when you think about it. Yes, women in the region tend to live more segregated lives. Instead of competing with men, they understand and nurture the concept of sisterhood, encouraging and supporting each other. When they get older and enter the corporate realm, government or family business, they are purposeful and have a quiet self-confidence, an inner strength which is ready to come out and be deployed in a broader spectrum. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, they are welcomed in the workplace and encouraged to grow and rise through the ranks. Have they had challenges to overcome? Absolutely. Challenges have shaped their character, balancing their resilience, perseverance and determination, together with their faith, patience and belief in a higher power. Formidable indeed.

So what are some of the ingredients that help foster women’s capabilities that we could use to make our companies more balanced, diverse and better equipped to handle the changing times?

 

Vision & Purpose

If you want to attract, nurture and keep the best women, consider what difference your business makes, why it matters. Frankly, if your business isn’t concerned with anything other than profit, you are going to face challenges in finding and keeping people with character and competence – women or men.

 

Interview From the Inside Out

If you are using an interview only as a checkbox exercise to see if the person has the skills for a particular job, you are missing out on a great opportunity. A person’s CV is merely a scratch on the surface of not only who this person is, but also how far their capabilities can extend. Context is key.

As a starter, why don’t you put the CV aside and get them to tell you their story? Adopt a curious mind, seeking to learn about the person’s experiences that have brought them to the present day. This approach can open up an individual’s character, their way of thinking, approach to challenges, and the environment and factors needed to bring out their best. You never know – you could even learn something along the way.

 

Don’t Hire What You Don’t Appreciate

If you don’t see how someone adds value to your organisation, why hire them? If the person is on board, why aren’t you listening to their viewpoint and perspective? If you want yes people who go along with what you say, you are wasting your money hiring great people. A recorded message to yourself telling you “you’re doing a good job” will suffice. However, if you hire us, listen to us. We have a different perspective. It may not be what you want to hear, but we are here to add value. Allow us – there are skills, traits and natural capabilities just waiting to be engaged. If you don’t appreciate us, we’ll find or create companies that will.

As featured in Women’s Prospects 

CASE STUDY

THE RIGHT PERSON TO LEAD?

Taking a closer look at people’s credentials.

CHALLENGE

The client needed to find a Managing Director for their business in an emerging market. A potential candidate had been recommended. I was asked to profile him.

INSIGHT

On paper, the individual seemed to have the right credentials, well equipped for the role with our client. He even had one of our client’s Senior Executives as a reference.

SOLUTION & OUTCOME

Interviewed the candidate using the AMANI™ protocol. The candidate’s track record, knowledge and experience seemed to be ideal. However, there was something that wasn’t right. It was very subtle with no hard evidence at this stage, but enough to instil a doubt and raise a red flag.

Discussed the matter with the client who looked into the area raised.

The examples the potential candidate had shared were real, but the work he was taking credit for was carried out by someone else – a person already working with our client.  Definitely not someone who could be trusted to lead a business. Saved the client from the potential fallout of having the wrong leader in place.

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  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

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ESTATE PLANNING Wealth transition between generations   CHALLENGE An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family...

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SUCCESS IN SUCCESSION The next generation taking over the family business CHALLENGE A nextgen was taking over the family business. To grow the business he also took on a private equity partner. The private equity firm recommended me as a sounding board to the CEO....

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CASE STUDY

FINDING THE RIGHT LEADER

An innovative approach to finding the right leader

 

CHALLENGE

A family business with a franchise partner had to replace the Managing Director with immediate effect. Failure to do so could result in them losing their business relationship with the franchise partner, which would have a big impact on their business, revenue and reputation. The time constraints were further exacerbated by the time of year – it coincided with a holiday season during which most people are not available.

SOLUTION & OUTCOME

The situation required an understanding of the issues and related factors, an ability to be laser-like in identifying the right person and out of the box thinking. Going the traditional search route would have taken too long. Taking a closer look at their client-base, contacts and additional resources, formulated a unique strategy that identified the right potential candidates and we set out to profile them for best fit.

The targeted candidates were from three different geographical locations so there were a number of factors to consider including:

  • The right skills and motivations
  • An understanding of the market
  • A proven track record in building a business with similar challenges
  • An ability to work with the cultural mix of people that worked with the organisation
  • An understanding of what relocation would entail from a familial perspective, making sure everyone was on board and in alignment
  • Resonance in terms of the ability to fit and thrive in the corporate culture

Regardless of the tight deadline, anyone who wasn’t just right was excluded, for their own sake as well as the client’s. Failure to do so would have increased the probability of having to face the same problem some months down the line. Using this methodology, the shortlist of three top candidates was presented within a month of first being alerted of the situation by the client.

The individual hired is still with the brand, growing the business in a new territory.

Saved the client time, money, reputation and the relationship with their franchise partner.

CASE STUDY

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  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

DO BUSINESS PRACTICES IMPACT PROFITABILITY?

 

For a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in share price. So should a company adopt ethical practices as a means of improving and securing a company’s economic performance?

Risk Mitigation

According to EIRIS, studies show that ethics-related news influences a company’s share price for better or worse, revealing effects of between 0.5% and 3% of the share price.

The lesson to be extrapolated from the shift in share price is the underlying knock-on effects on the dynamics and relationships that enable that business to thrive, and ultimately the level of trust and confidence in management. Without this trust, stakeholders tend to limit investments, negatively affecting growth.

Private companies may argue this doesn’t affect them since they don’t have a share price. However, they still have other stakeholders to bear in mind, especially customers, suppliers, employees and themselves as the ultimate owner of the asset – its value, reputation and standing.

 

People Taking Care of People

Employees prefer to work with companies that treat them with dignity, respect and fairness. Creating an environment in which employees feel they matter has a residual benefit in propelling them to create positive experiences for customers. However, if employees see, hear or experience negative behaviour, it erodes their trust in and loyalty to the company, and the quality of care they feel compelled or empowered to portray to customers.

 

Customer Satisfaction

Companies with high levels of customer satisfaction tend to generate a higher degree of customer loyalty, repeat business and more market share in the long run. Customers may decline to deal with a company that causes them to be suspicious and afraid. Businesses that genuinely contribute to their community and maintain good relationships with other companies tend to be more successful in the long run. On the flip-side, those who have corporate social responsibility efforts on the one hand but poor business practices on the other, are in danger of breeding cynicism into their customers, and mistrust.

 

Creating Value

Ethical business practices are sound business practices. Instead of being consumed by unnecessary lawsuits and other activities that detract from the mission and purpose, the business can focus on producing quality products and services that enable positive financial results for the company.

 

Financial Health

Beyond regulatory requirements, accurate financial records are essential for sound decision-making and long-term success. Financial records provide an overview of return on effort, a tool to support business to measure its rewards for initiatives taking place in the marketplace. Sound and timely financial records are essential in determining the trajectory of the company, and the ability to course correct where and when necessary. They also provide the ability to respond quickly to opportunities, without adding strain or unwarranted risk. Furthermore, a clear picture on the financial situation of the company will enable it to have the cash flow required to fulfil its commitments, a sound business practice to keep employees and maintain relationships with suppliers.

 

Green Practices

Whether you’re chopping trees or hugging trees, people look for returns.

The fact of the matter is if you don’t keep an eye on your bottom line, the business will be unsustainable. The bottom line is affected by people’s perception, belief and likability of your company. The internet and social media have provided stakeholders with the tools to have a greater insight into the impact businesses have on our environment and society. Customers seek to do business with companies that reflect their values, and suppliers and investors would be wise to follow suit.

 

Unforeseen Circumstances

It is far easier to set off on the right foot in the first place than trying to course correct once calamity hits. That said, genuine errors and unforeseen circumstances do happen. The ability for a business to respond appropriately and speedily speaks volumes in the eyes of stakeholders. However, waiting until a crisis strikes to instil and encourage good behaviours is a poor strategy given the time it takes to overhaul embedded systems, beliefs and practices. These changes result in delayed decisions, negative public opinion and a downward spiral in relationships with stakeholders – not good practice for any business that needs customers, employees, suppliers and investors to thrive.

Some may still argue why change when some are getting away with it. Others may wait for regulatory bodies to force them to clean up their business practices, and there will be those who choose to see the tide is shifting – that the manner in which we produce and deliver products and services matters. Now is an excellent time to challenge the ills we tolerate under the guise ‘but this is business’ and start by acting responsibly in the first place.

 

 

Featured in Fresh Business Thinking