Why does diversity matter to directors?

By Judeline Nicholas, Institute of Directors

At the Institute of Directors (IoD), we believe that better directors build better organisations and better organisations build a better world.

Published in Essex Director Magazine Autumn|Winter 2022

Institute of Directors (IoD East)

Every director’s responsibility is to support cultures that promote inclusion and diversity because such organisations perform better and give back more to their people, stakeholders, and society.

We are committed to supporting directors on this journey through our world-class professional development programme, our influence on government and our ability to forge connections between people.

In August 2021, the IoD commissioned independent research to assess our own performance. This led to recommendations on where to focus our efforts to build momentum around more diverse leadership and boards.

We have set a goal over the next few years to grow our female membership base from just under 20% to 33%.

We support the view expressed in the 2021 FTSE Women Leaders Review that the pace of change in getting more women on boards and in senior leadership roles is too slow and more needs to be done.

Our IoD Women’s Leadership Conference has been a staple event in the business calendar for over a decade. The 2022 sold-out event saw more than 1,100 business figures celebrate female leadership.

During October 2021, we were involved in several activities to support and raise awareness for Black History Month, which recognises the contributions of people of African, Caribbean and other black backgrounds.

In 2021 the IoD established the Shinkwin Commission, led by Lord Shinkwin, a Conservative peer and leading disability rights campaigner. The Commission was launched in early 2022, inviting stakeholders to submit evidence on how businesses can become more inclusive and diverse regarding gender, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and disability.

Based on the findings, we plan to publish a report with policy recommendations, including best practice examples, in Autumn 2022.

If you are starting on your inclusion and diversity journey and would like to learn more or share your experiences, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Judeline Nicholas is the IoD’s Norfolk-based ambassador for inclusion and diversity.

She is committed to learning and development and believes that valuing inclusion and diversity makes an organisation stronger and more capable of meeting challenges.

She says: “There is a huge business case for diversity. There is also a business risk in not addressing it. Young people are saying they want to engage on this subject. If you don’t, they will go somewhere else.

“Business owners want to engage with the diversity issue, but it can be challenging to get a handle on the nuances and turn this into a strategy.

“As leaders, we need to work together. It is important to have a critical friend – someone with whom you can have an open and honest conversation. You need to feel comfortable with challenges and change.

“A good starting point is to look at your stakeholders. Do they have a platform to engage with you? Do they have that sense of belonging that leads to loyalty? Be open, and you will be surprised at how much you will learn.”

The IoD East of England Ambassador team is growing to support this important area with the recent appointment of Linda Doe,  a Chartered and Registered Psychologist joining the Cambridgeshire Branch supporting inclusion and diversity.

Why does diversity matter to directors? 1

Richard Holdaway, Senior Branch Manager, IoD East of England

T: 01223 739 714
E: east@iod.com
Or visit www.iod.com/locations/east-of-england
Twitter: @iodeastengland

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