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The first step in the move towards full diversity in the UK’s largest companies is now complete. With the appointment of Patrice Merrin to the board of Glencore Xstrata, every FTSE100 company now has a woman director.
But whilst this appointment represents an important milestone, it is, in some ways, only the start. Cultivating a culture of diversity means embracing diversity at every level throughout the organisation. Why does it matter? Well for a start an organisation which has embraced diversity is far better suited to anticipate and meet the requirements of its diverse customer base. In turn this creates increased sales from increasingly loyal customers.
Just as importantly, bringing a diverse range of opinions, ideas and mindsets to the table means that businesses can be far more agile in their outlook. Innovation culture requires input from everyone if it is to meet its full potential and the more diverse the ideas, the more benefit to the organisation, its customers and its employees.
Diversity can also help to enhance risk and compliance management. In a department in which everyone is of a similar age, sex and outlook it can be easy for practices to grow up which are less than ideal. Having a mix of voices can lead to improved practices, with the voice of reason mitigating those who would otherwise seek to ‘bend the rules’ in competition.
This latest appointment is an important first step but for full diversity, and not just at board level, there is still a long way to go.