2014 is the year for promoting diversity in the Square Mile. The City’s second ever woman Lord Mayor, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, (shamefully given there have been 686 holders of the office) has made the power of diversity one of her key themes. In launching the programme in her 686 Plan, Fiona says:
The City depends upon being able to draw the best talent from an increasingly diverse and inclusive pool for the innovation that society now needs. The Power of Diversity programme will highlight and discuss the critical steps that the City at all management levels must take to maximise the energy and innovation that diversity can bring to business.
She goes on to ask some key questions: Where are the new ideas and a new challenge to old ideas going to come from? Is the talent pool wide enough to facilitate the desired social mobility and inclusion?
As this Sky News reports demonstrates, someone has been listening and has decided to act. Lloyds Banking Group has committed itself to having forty per cent of its top 5,000 jobs filled by women within six years. This sends a very welcome message that in Lloyds at least, the glass ceiling is a thing of the past.
Let’s hope that more City businesses – and those outside the financial and professional services industries – respond to the Lord Mayor’s rallying cry. Business will benefit from having leadership teams that look and think more like Britain’s diverse society – they are after all the customers served by those companies.
There are many people of talent who aren’t white straight men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s – so let’s see many more women, more LGBT people, more people from different ethnic backgrounds, more disabled people, and younger people in our boardrooms.
As chairman of the ASA, I’m proud to have the fabulous Lisa Wainwright as my deputy chair; and in my time as chairman of Local Partnerships, I appointed two excellent women chief executives and other senior women to the board and management team. The talent is out there – just go and find it.