Tag Archives: leadership

The EU, Quotas and an apology

A health warning on today’s post, for two reasons.  First, expect a rant.  This morning two of my favourite subjects caught my eye, the European Union and the subject of quotas.  Second, be prepared for an admission that I might have been wrong.

Shocked?  You should be.  I suspect this may be my first public admission of my own fallibility since 1987 ( I lost an argument over which one of the Farris Brothers played lead Guitar in INXS , it was Tim, not Andrew ).

Back to matters at hand.  Namely the EU and Quotas.  So here we go.  Ready, aim…….

Wait a minute.  Here comes the admission.  It looks as though for once I owe our good neighbours ( in that enormous waste of our hard-earned cash, I had to get it in somewhere ) in Brussels an apology.  It seems that for once they might actually be needed to do some good.

The subject of quotas is on the Agenda again and I am not talking about Fish Stocks.  This time it is back to the issue of diversity in the workplace, in particular in the boardroom.

3% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are Women.  In Europe, only 12% of Board posts are occupied by Women.  In the UK, the picture is a little better.  In the FTSE 100 the number of women in Board Posts is up in the last 10 years from 6.9% to 12.5%.  A step in the right direction, but there are still only 79 female Executives on the Board of Britain’s largest companies.

It makes no sense.  This is not 1811, this is 2011.  Organisations the world over are ignoring 50% of the population when it comes to picking top talent.  The debate rages on and yet little changes.  It’s a nonsense.

A 2010 report by McKinsey stated

“Operating results of companies which have greater gender diversification are 56% higher”

In 2007, A Goldman Sachs report evidenced

“closing the gender gap could boost U.S. gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic growth, by as much as 9%, and up to 13% in the euro zone”.

Based on the stats, business doesn’t seem to be getting the message that Talent is not defined by gender, race, sexual orientation or religious belief.  It is not defined by geography or culture, by nationality or heritage.  Get the message, pick the very best you can afford to deliver the very best value to shareholders, customers, employees, the wider world.

I don’t want to be told who to hire.  I don’t believe in quotas, it encourages all sorts of problems when it comes to hiring, but if the message doesn’t get through, politicians will step in and a quota is what we will get.  Politicians and Business don’t mix (with any degree of success).  Quota’s and Business don’t work.  If Business Leaders don’t wake up, then a quota is what we will get and we have only ourselves to blame.  For once, the politicians might just be right.

I’ll leave you with a sense of just what we are up against in the battle to get this message through.  Recently Josef Ackerman, CEO of Deutsche Bank, was reported to have commented that having more Women in the Board Room would make board meetings “prettier and colourful”.  I’ll leave you to make your own judgement.



Filed under Corporate Governance, Employee Engagement, Hiring

Diversity delivers.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers is the worlds second largest professional services firm, employing 161,000 people in 757 cities across 154 countries.  Despite its global reach, only 14% of its Partners are women.

They want to change this to better represent the diverse nature of customers they represent and people they employ.  Chairman Ian Powell is reported as wanting to set an “aspirational goal” of 40% to 50% of partners “being women or from other under – represented groups, such as ethnic minorities.  Good for him.


What encourages me most about the way this is being reported is the fact that reference is made to this not being about “quotas”.  This isn’t about political correctness, this is about recognising that talent is not defined by gender or ethnicity.  Talent is always in demand and always in short supply, regardless of the economic cycle.  If you want the very best for your organisation, why restrict that which from you select to half the population?

I don’t want quotas, or for that matter positive discrimination.  I want to able to judge everyone purely on merit.  I want to hire the very best talent I can attract within the budget that is available to me.  That should be the case for all hiring, if you want your organisation to flourish.

All the research I’ve ever read on the subject of hiring evidences the more diverse your board, your leadership group, your managers, the better performing, more productive, profitable, sustainable, successful your business will be.  This is about applying best practice in your hiring.  I applaud PwC for taking these steps, I look forward to seeing them deliver.  Not only great news for their employers, but frankly their customers.

Lord Davies take note, quotas are not the way to encourage behaviour along these lines.   Education is the answer.  Keep getting the message across that you can greatly impact your bottom line by attracting a diverse range of talent to your business.  Give business the evidence, the case studies, the facts and keep giving it.  Diversity delivers.  It is a positive message we would all be well served to heed.


Filed under Hiring

Why we have too few women leaders

Five years ago I was invited by a large Investment Bank to a recruiters forum to debate gender diversity.  Specifically the issue being addressed was why there weren’t enough female managers in Investment Banking.  How are we going to attract them?  Where are we going to get them from?  How will we retain them?

It was a frank, open, grown up, honest debate.  A lot of good ideas and initiatives were suggested from those 50 or 60 recruiters and HR PRofessionals in the room.  I don’t know how many of them were implemented, but five years on and the debate still rages.

So why doesn’t 50% of the population of the planet occupy 50% of the top jobs?

The numbers speak for themselves.  190 heads of state, 9 are women.  Women occupy only 13% of all the Parliamentary seats available on the planet.  84% of top jobs in the corporate world are occupied by men.  In the not for profit sector, a sector often assumed to be occupied by more women, men still assume 80% of the leadership roles.

From an employers perspective, we are limiting the pool of talent from which we select for leadership roles to only half that available.  Why does this happen?  Particularly when all the research evidences the more diverse an organisation, the more long-term sustainable success it is likely to enjoy.

Rather than give you the perspective of a 38-year-old Anglo-Saxon male, I thought it would prove more insightful to get the perspective of someone who really knows from personal experience the journey that women must take in order to achieve leadership responsibility.

Sheryl Sandberg is the mother of a five and two-year old.  She is Chief Operating Officer at Facebook.  A Harvard MBA, her CV also includes Chief of Staff to the US Treasury and Vice President of Online Sales at Google. She also helped establish the philanthropic Google.org

If you have 14 minutes 58 seconds to spare I implore you to watch this.  There is much here from which we can all learn.  If you don’t have time, I would love to know your views.  Let me have your comments.  Why do we have too few women leaders?

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Filed under Careers, Leadership

What does it take to manage a global company successfully?

What does it take to run a global company?

Just KISS!

The acronym Keep It Simple, Stupid wins every time, makes such perfect sense, is so easy to understand yet all too often gets missed. Running a global entity requires simplicity of vision and mission and a compelling purpose.  Add a serious dose of clarity, honesty, integrity, consistency and relentless commitment to delivery and you have just some of the ingredients required.

Oh, and no little talent, a razor sharp intellect, the ability to inspire people to produce great results, huge energy and stamina, a body clock to astound the most learned Doctor and an incredible work ethic.

Up for it?

Richard Cousins is CEO of Compass, the worlds largest contract food service, serving over 4 billion meals annually in over 50 countries. He gives us his insight in to just what is required to run a global company in this interview from http://www.dailytelegraph.co.uk

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Filed under Careers, Leadership

Jay-Z – From the street to the boardroom.

I am inspired by people who have been prepared to have a go, people who have evidenced incredible self belief, persistence, tenacity, passion, in the most trying of circumstances.  Those who know that not trying is a failure in itself.

Shawn Carter is one such source of inspiration.  Better known as American Hip Hop star Jay-Z, Carter is one of the most successful artists and entrepreneurs in America.  In 2009 his net worth was $150 million.  He has sold 50 million records worldwide, received ten grammy award nominations, co – owns The 40/40 Club, The NBA’s New Jersey Nets and is the creator of clothing label Rocawear.  He has been CEO of Def Jam Recordings, one of the three founders of Roc-A-Fella Records and the founder of Roc Nation.  All this by the age of 40.

He grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn.  There was no silver spoon in the Carter Household.  This is someone who received no favours, sought no entitlement.  This is someone who fought hard for what he believed in, knew what he was passionate about and chased hard, hustled to succeed.  Sure he had some scrapes along the way but through sheer determination, no little talent and a sharp mind he has achieved incredible things.

Think of the thousands of people who have benefit both directly and indirectly from Entrepreneurs.  The jobs that are created, the contribution to the wider economy through the vision and persistence of just one person.  We have much to be thankful for that they exist.

Success is measured in many different ways.  It means different things to different people.  All of us can learn from the experiences of others.  Persistence, tenacity, determination, passion, drive, a desire to better yourself, to do better for others, they are all qualities that you need to be successful in your chosen path.

Carter’s message is a simple one.  Stay true to yourself and that which you believe and go for it.  I for one am with him all the way.

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Interview Nick Bollettieri Head Coach, IMG Performance Institute

Sport is a metaphor for life.  The emotions, the commitment, the effort, the highs, the lows, the blood, the sweat, the tears, the bouquets, the brickbats.  Follow a sport, play a sport, you can experience all that life can offer in ninety minutes, five hours, a day, five days.  There is much business can learn from sport and vice versa, not least sport would appear to acknowledge that the best players are not guaranteed to make the best managers.

Nick Bollettieri is one of those people who has managed tremendous success from the business of sport.  An American Tennis Coach, he has taken the likes of Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Mary Pierce to the world number one spot.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, MeetTheBoss.tv  is a great resource for all things Executive Leadership and Management Training.  Click on the link below for the full interview and here some great content from Nick on the lessons he has taken from a career in business and sport working with some of the world’s greatest talent.  You can subscribe for free, its more than worth the key strokes.

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Filed under Leadership, Talent, Uncategorized

Who’s your number 2, Steve Jobs?

I love a gadget.  Ipod, Ipad, Iphone, Itunes, AppleTV, Mac, Macbook, they all feature somewhere , in someway, in my life.  I love what they do and I love how they do it.  Clearly so do many others.

Just look at yesterdays Q4 results.  3.89 million Macs, 14.1 million iPhones, 9.05 million iPods, and 4.19 million iPads sold in one quarter.  They are killing the competition, selling 2 million more iPhones last quarter than RIM sold BlackBerry devices.

The numbers are compelling.  In one quarter, $20.34 billion in revenue and $4.31 billion in profit.  The success juggernaut that is Apple enjoyed a share price one year ago around $190 a share.  Today Apple shares closed at $317.93 (an all time high) giving a market cap approaching $300BN.

What possibly can go wrong?

I can see only one problem coming over the hill for Apple and its a monster.  Who is your number two, Steve Jobs?

I am sure he has one.  I am sure in fact that he has several superstars that he has identified within Apple and indeed outside who he feels have the talent to fill his shoes.  I am sure he invests much of his time mentoring, teaching, engaging, developing his key players of the future.

He has history to learn from.  The last time Apple rid themselves of Jobs incredible talents, it was a disaster for the company.  I am sure he won’t allow that to happen again.  Will he?

Succession planning is crucial to long-term, sustainable success.  Jobs casts an imposing and vast shadow.  Whoever fills his shoes will be faced with a thankless task.  However, fill them he or she must if Apple is to continue to look after the best interests of its stakeholders.

It is the responsibility of leadership to ensure succession planning is an integral part of business strategy.  Long term, sustainable success requires a commitment to developing the leaders of tomorrow today.   Succession planning is essential at all levels within business.

Who is your number 2?

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Filed under Corporate Governance, Leadership