Innovation through diversity – uniformity is killing your bottom line


Live blogged at #IIeX in Amsterdam. Any error or bad jokes are my own.

Panelists – Eric Salama, Anita Nayyar, Erika Harriford-McLaren, Kristin Suhlke

  • When senior leadership is all middle aged white, other people might not feel included
  • Research is intended for countries all the world, companies need to reflect what their clients are talking about
  • Biggest issue Kantar is dealing with is gender diversity, they are 55% female. They look at all of their senior roles on a monthly basis and are running 40% female appointments to roles. They have a lot of mentoring programs.  They want talented people to succeed. Business loses when you don’t help talented people rise through the organization. They mentor a few hundred people now.
  • WorldThinks is run by women. They need to access diverse audiences, physically and mentally challenged people. 
  • Erika worked with ESOMAR for several years. She has done recruitment at other jobs and saw how difficult achieving diversity is. Students wonder do they do a diversity program or do they try to get selected on their own.
  • Kristin is working to cure corporate amnesia. 3% of CEO’s of tech companies are women. She is one. Says P&G has done well on both gender and ethnic diversity.
  • Women have a lot of buying but only 5% of Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO. How do we improve this? Be a mentor and advocate for women. Girls fathers have a huge role to play – the girls who did best were treated the same as their brothers by their fathers, subconsciously blur the gender line.
  • “You can’t be what you can’t see”
  • What is the issue? Work life balance? Not enough roles? Seems women don’t feel as confident as men in putting themselves forward for a role. WOmen say 7 out of 10 isn’t not enough but men would say 3 out of 10 is overqualified. 
  • “The confidence gap” book. Kristin Luck says if she’s grossly under qualified for something, she tries it anyways [THAT’S how you do it!]
  • How are women supposed to balance kids and their career? [so sick of that, why isn’t it an issue for men?]
  • For Marissa Mayer to go back to work in two weeks, was she a bad role model for other women? We wouldn’t have this discussion with men.
  • How do companies reverse this? Flexible work locations help. Companies need to help more. Companies should publish job ads but then ensure that at least one woman is on the shortlist, even if she isn’t hired. It forces people to think about it.
  • Has a man ever been asked if he plans to have children when he seeks VC funds? Kristin Z was asked. How is that appropriate?
  • COmpanies with a female on their executive team raise more first and last funding, and are more financially successful. 
  • How can you effectively research/market a product where 70% of target is women and 0% of the business team is women?
  • If you want the most talented people, you need to do the hard work to find them. 
  • Gender diversity isn’t the only thing to be concerned about. Ethnicity matters too, religion, age, and more. In the UK, diversity might be going backwards because the population is changing. 
  • People notice brands that reflect them.
  • [Sad that one of the speakers stopped wearing her hijab because she was worried what people would think of her.  Diversity shouldn’t have to hide.]
  • Kantar finds that if you broadly get the country representation right, you broadly get religious representation right
  • ESOMAR is very English, along with most other conferences so you’re excluded from participating in the global research space. Only 10% of Europeans have English but they may not feel like they can contribute in a meaningful way in English. 
  • How do we get younger people into the industry but…. What about all the older people? They ought be represented as well. Have you ever hired a 70 year old for a junior job? Are you bringing older people INTO the business? Why do we think a 65 year old is the same as an 85 year old? We don’t do that for 25 year old and 45 year olds?
  • Actions – men need to step up and be important mentors to females from a young age, be colour brave and get involved with people you wouldn’t normally be with, hire outside the same places you always hire, be religion brave and choose people even if they don’t come from the best school as they too will have great ideas and new directions for your business, make it mandatory that for every job opening their must be a woman on the shortlist 
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