Former CME executive Kim Myers, who became CEO of social engagement platform All of Us earlier this year, as Finance Magnates reported, believes that the world is becoming more aware of the benefits that a diverse and inclusive workplace bring, but sees that there is room for growth.
A change that could bring more diversity to the workplace relates to the hiring process, which can be problematic due to any number of factors: unconscious sexism, racism, and ageism, as well as a conscious decision to hire primarily from “target schools”, according to Myers.
“Some level of blind recruitment could assist in removing these biases”, she said in an interview with Finance Magnates.
A common thread throughout Myers’ career has been a longstanding interest in building communities and also helping to grow businesses and products that she believes in.
While at the CME, she worked with start-up sized businesses within a larger platform, helping them expand into new markets.
Beyond her career in sales, Myers also founded two employee networking groups – NEX Women and FLOW – CME a mental health and wellbeing group.
All of Us: building diverse inclusive cultures
All of Us provides a solution for any organisation that cares about building diverse inclusive cultures and strong internal communities. The platform itself helps companies to structure their D&I (diversity and inclusion) efforts into one place, promote positive role models, share what is happening in the world, Myers explained.
The platform publishes educational information that helps to shape good behaviours. It also connects people so they can form networks of interest. All of Us generates unique data and insights about employees and gives leaders a visible window to speak out.
“The huge public outcry following the tragic death of George Floyd has demanded that leaders step up and speak out and to demonstrate their efforts regarding diversity and inclusion. Leaders must be visible. This in turn helps them to build respect, trust and retain top talent”, she continued.
Moving towards less homogenous boardrooms
To make the financial services industry a more inclusive and diverse workplace, organisations need to consciously make sure there are role models in senior positions from different walks of life, All of Us believes.
A healthy blend of people with diverse perspectives leads to balanced decision making and innovative thinking, Myers said.
Though companies have taken steps towards diversity in recent decades, boardrooms remain homogenous,” she continued.
A simple change that could be made across the sector is transparency, according to All of US.
Gender pay gap
As an example, the gender pay gap is still a significant issue for many organisations, Myers said.
“For companies that have gender pay imbalance, openness and transparency about what they are doing to address the gap is important. If there is an imbalance amongst peers of the same title and performance, discussions can be held regarding appropriate adjustments. If there are balances amongst peers, but males still earn a higher average wage, this could indicate a gender imbalance amongst senior leadership. Without transparency and openness, these conversations can’t be held at a meaningful level” she added.
To encourage women and ethnic minorities to go for leadership positions, more positive role models in the workplace, community and society are needed, according to Myers.
“Mentoring and support to nurture and encourage career development in these groups is also important”, she believes.
Myers also thinks that it is critical that that inclusion is supported at the top and this value reverberates across all of senior and middle management.
“People tend to mimic behaviour so in order to reinforce this value it is important leaders act as role models. That being said, progressive organisations encourage ‘two-way’ communication’ which allows all employees irrespective of seniority to have a voice that is heard, so ultimately everyone has a role in shaping the future of the organisation,” she said.
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Companies need to build organizations that recognize, celebrate, and promote diversity. If this is accomplished, diversity and inclusion will become a self-sustaining and respected element of the organisation’s DNA”, Myers concluded.
Dame Inga Beale: 4 decades of global financial services experience
Inga Beale is a British businesswoman and former CEO of Lloyds of London. She has 38 years of experience in global financial services. Known as a speaker and role model for driving the inclusion agenda, Beale is a member of the All of Us board.
Her main motivation for joining All of Us was that the platform provides an opportunity to learn from others and to share inspirational stories to help drive towards more inclusive workplaces.
“Diversity is about recognising and respecting difference, realising there is benefit in having a range of people’s perspectives in decision-making. Inclusion is creating an environment in which everyone feels that they belong, that their contribution matters and they are valued regardless of their background, identity or circumstances”, in Beale’s view.
Early career challenges
One key challenge on her career path that became a fantastic opportunity was in the 1990’s when she worked for a company that had a proactive talent management programme. Managers were required to promote women and people from ethnic minorities.
“I was “the woman” but I turned my first promotion down. I suffered from there being no female role models in the workplace and not feeling confident to do the job. I had been working for 12 years with no previous management responsibility. I was petrified but the company asked me what support they could provide,” Beale continued.
After taking an assertiveness course for women, she said yes to that promotion.
“It was all very exciting and I started to understand how rewarding it could be to manage and develop other people. After that I took every scary opportunity that came along and my career took off”, she explained.
Since she started working in the early 80’s, things have changed for the better in many parts of the world, according the Beale.
“It’s not always smooth progress but we see much better acceptance of, for instance, women taking on senior roles in the workplace albeit it can still be challenging for working mothers to get the life/work balance right for them. For the LGBT community there are many more “out” role models in the world at large and in general we see better representation of different communities within all sorts of media. Legislation for equality and anti-discrimination policies have been introduced in many countries but there is still more to be done. We must not become complacent as it is easy for progressive enhancements to human rights to be taken away at the whim of those in power”, Beale added.
Diversity and Inclusion in the financial industry
Diversity & Inclusion have become areas of focus across many financial and professional services firms but levels of maturity and, particularly, levels of success vary a lot, according to Beale.
Taking on the challenge of transforming the Lloyd’s market into a digital environment – from paper trading to electronic trading – was when Beale fully realised the business imperative of D&I. A stroll through the leadership teams of the firms in the insurance market, showed that people had been hiring people like themselves for a very long time.
“They were protective about what they had and there was little appetite for modernisation. I realised that if we were to survive we needed to ensure we were attracting different types of people – people who would challenge the “norm” and support new ways of working,” Beale continued.“The creativity of diverse teams is far greater than a group of homogenous people and, by providing a modern flexible inclusive work environment where individuals are engaged, productivity is improved so a win-win all round.”
All of Us provides a platform to share stories, best practice, and knowledge. It provides an easy way of recognising and rewarding the right behaviours and can be a catalyst for those important conversations that will help guide firms to be truly inclusive work places.