Encouraging diversity and inclusion in the world of corporate treasury

The closing session of the summit focused on diversity in the world of corporate treasurers, with a presentation by Helena Mattingley, Head of the Diversity and Inclusion team at King's College London. She began her presentation with an observation: “I am a white woman. Consciously or not, this fact has already led you to make certain conclusions.”

The participants then watched a video of a TED Talk by Rocio Lorenzo, who used facts and figures to demonstrate that diversity strongly increases teams' capacity for innovation: for example, the most innovative companies are those where women account for more than 20% of executives. At the same time, higher levels of education have not propelled as many women as might be expected to positions of responsibility.

Does diversity foster innovation, or rather does innovation promote diversity? In the end, it is a virtuous cycle: more diversity → more innovation → more diversity.

 

Diversity goes well beyond gender: it must also include for instance age, race and sexual orientation. On this last point, a McKinsey study from January 2018 (Delivering through Diversity) indicates that 62% of LGBT people declare themselves straight: how can you be yourself when hiding behind a mask? According to the same report, companies that promote diversity are better at attracting, developing and retaining talent; they are more in touch with their clients; exhibit higher rates of employee satisfaction, fewer conflicts and better collaboration among teams; make better, faster and more objective decisions; and enjoy a positive image and reputation among the general public. The study also finds strong links between diversity and competitive advantage, as well as between diversity and commercial and financial performance.

 

How can companies act to increase diversity and inclusion? First of all by implementing a vision shared by their entire staff, starting with the executive committee, which must set the example. They must then implement measurable goals for diversity and inclusion that are consistent with the company strategy and in tune with local specificities. Finally, internal promotion and recruitment serve as levers to enhance diversity and inclusion.