Diversity…. A compelling opportunity for family businesses

HOW WILL WE EVER ACHIEVE DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT IF WE AREN’T DIVERSE ENOUGH TO WANT IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

I recently attended a presentation by Kirsten Taylor-Martin, a Partner at Grant Thornton, on a body of research titled ‘Diversity of Thought in Family Businesses’. The event was hosted by Family Business Australia (FBA) and provided a platform for rich discussion on an important topic.

In such a rapidly changing and intensely competitive world, diversity in business should be embraced as an opportunity, an advantage. The Grant Thornton report appropriately summarises using the words of Albert Einstein, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.

Diversity is not limited to gender (although yes, that is a hot topic), but should extend to other factors such as culture, background, experiences and personalities. From my experience, one of the most inspiring and exhilarating aspects of business is that it can be such a melting pot of beliefs, passions, capabilities and knowledge, while at the same time being unified by a broader purpose – a common goal that gets everyone out of bed every morning.

Yes, a diverse team may lead to some more robust conversations, a little more negotiation, and a more empathetic and emotionally intelligent approach to leadership. But, it might also deliver on that tenfold. It may be the reason you are able to maintain your industry leading position, increase your market share or become the disruptor in your own industry rather than being disrupted.

A SNAPSHOT OF THE STATES

WITH THE FOCUS SQUARELY ON AUSTRALIAN FAMILY BUSINESSES THE REPORT HIGHLIGHTED THE FOLLOWING:

  • 87.72% of the family businesses that responded had a male CEO.
  • Less than 2% of respondents reported having gender diversity targets for leadership roles in place.
  • 57.41% are open to having a gender-diverse leadership team. Let’s flip that around for a moment – this means that 42.59% are not open to having a gender-diverse leadership team.
  • Rather than being viewed as a growth strategy, benefits of gender diversity are perceived as being employee morale, performance and productivity (47.37%), marketing and customer service (26.32%), and employee creativity (26.32%).

DIVERSITY FOR DIVERSITY’S SAKE?

No, of course not. But there does need to be appropriate structure, governance and opportunity for diversity to even have a chance to have a seat at the table. Anyone that wants to have a voice needs to have something to say, and the right channels to say it in, but absolutely businesses and leadership teams need to be open to input from all for their voices to be heard.

You can download a full copy of the Diversity of Thought in Family Businesses Report from Grant Thornton.

Jodie de Vries

Written by: Jodie de Vries
Published: March 2, 2018

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