Talking about the work the industry does to tackle the issue, Patrick Tame, CEO of executive recruiter Beringer Tame, says it’s crucial to talk to clients about the business advantage:
“Why do we want more women in senior positions? Why does it matter? Whilst I believe in gender equality because I think it’s fair, that’s not enough. The reason I hire women in my company and encourage clients to take mixed shortlists is because I believe hiring diverse teams leads to better business.”
Raj Tulsiani, Co-Founder & CEO of executive search firm Green Park, has a similar approach, and stresses the business argument: “Creating the conditions to build and buy talent from different backgrounds is a clear competitive advantage.”
Both Tame and Tulsiani have been looking at the issue for some time, but a recent report criticised the industry, suggesting that there needs to be more transparency. Reacting to the report Vince Cable, Business Secretary, said that these firms “can often be one of the first hurdles that talented, board-ready women face when trying to reach the top”.
Green Park analysed diversity in the top 10,000 roles in the FTSE 100, finding just a dozen of the 289 key executives are women. The company has published a diversity guide, which provides advice to executives, to try and address the issue.
Tulsiani recognises the role executive search can play in being a barrier to change and advises business to work with their executive search partners to ensure there’s sufficient depth to their search for talent:
“If your talent attraction strategy is only focused on your competitors, you are staying within the same gene pool as them and it’s unlikely that you can drive competitive advantage or EBIT improvement through talent at a faster rate than the market. The key to unlocking this is to engage with your headhunter face to face over a period of time and hold them accountable for bringing you, and being able to appoint, the usual and unusual suspects.”
Tame says that as a headhunter he always makes a point of putting women forward on shortlists: “On the whole my clients ask for them, so the business community is making a concerted effort.”
However, he adds that it’s important to help clients see past their dispositions towards hiring people with certain levels of experience or backgrounds, which reduces the diversity available in certain industries.
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