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Plutarch: Thoughts on People Management

The value of diversity: women in business

Friday 11th March 2016

The United Nations marked International Women's Day this week on March 8th.

Hunter-Miller met with a hiring director this week to discuss a candidate shortlist. Four CVs were put forward, and a conversation ensued about the relative merits of each. It was happily agreed that these four individuals would be scheduled for interview with the company over the coming two weeks.

Towards the end of the meeting, the director commented favourably on what he saw to be a surprising level of diversity amongst those shortlisted. Your writer, slightly taken aback by this candour, considered the group: a Polish woman; an Italian woman; a British Asian man, and a Black British woman.

Here at Hunter-Miller we do not codify candidates based on race, religion, orientation, or any other protected characteristics; rightly so we feel, as it would be hard to justify how such factors are material to a typical search.

But we do have a fair idea about the number of women we put forward. And in light of the UN’s International Women’s Day, marked this week on March 8th, we are pleased to report that, in the last twelve months, not a single Hunter-Miller shortlist has been devoid of female candidates.

Business has little time for positive discrimination, usually putting pure talent and outcomes first; and as a search firm it is our duty to provide only the best, irrespective of background.

But as Grant Thornton pointed out in a report in September of last year, and many other analysts have corroborated for some time now, there is growing evidence that the mere presence of one woman on a board can lead to significant ROI outperformance when compared with male-only counterparts.

Society is diverse, and our best and brightest are increasingly emerging from a plurality of backgrounds; but more needs to be done to reflect this in our businesses. It would appear to be necessary not only for a healthy society, but also for a healthy balance sheet.

Read Grant Thornton's report here: The Value of Diversity

Plutarch in no way claims to offer comprehensive statistical reports – the absence of numbers reveals that much, and individual confidentially remains his priority. Nonetheless Hunter-Miller's vast network offers compelling anecdotal evidence, and some occasionally interesting insights.

What would you be interested to know? Get in touch.