In November 2015 Flint Hyde Financial Services hosted an Executive dinner to discuss the matter of diversity and we drew several interesting conclusions from the evening. The dinner was attended by board executives from both the life and non-life markets, including representatives from the Lloyd's market and reinsurance.
A couple of the key takeaways for me:
- The impact of regulation. Heavily regulated markets could be seen to breed a particular type of person - when you are forced to operate within specific limits, it can be difficult to promote alternative ways of thinking. When that is the case there is a danger that 'minorities' with different perspectives will get frustrated and not find the opportunities to progress to the most senior level.
- Flexibility of working. This was a fairly contentious one, as it played on several stereo-types, and also gave an insight in to the way different people think. Whilst there is an argument that offering more flexible working environments will allow those with a desire to balance their home life more scope to progress, there is also an argument that, ultimately, being the CEO of a multi-billion pound organisation is a 24/7 job no matter what. Hence, you either decide that's what you want and pursue it, or not.
This insightful study by PWC reflects much of what was discussed.
...global analysis by McKinsey shows that the highest correlation between increased gender diversity in the executive team and performance uplift, is in UK companies. And because organisations today are operating in markets that are more diverse, with demographic and social change reshaping the customer base and market dynamics, it’s no surprise that companies taking a proactive stance on diversity are seeing clear advantages. However, there is still a long way to go before their actions are typical of the majority. In the UK alone, women are nowhere close to parity with men at the highest positions of their companies. A recent survey by the Cranfield School of Management shows that men occupy 91% of executive director posts in the FTSE 100 and 95% in the FTSE 250.