The zero-cost way of improving your company

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There are very few cost-free ways of improving your business but one CEO says there’s at least one – and every organisational leader should jump at the opportunity.

“The research is becoming increasingly clear that the inclusion of more women in boards and management will improve your company,” says Richard Nesbitt, CEO of the Global Risk Institute in Financial Services.

“To me, as a senior executive, I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t do this – it has no cost,” he continues. “If I’m creating a team, I can have a balance of men and women and it doesn’t cost me any more that it would if it was a team of all men.”

While there’s strong evidence to support diversity in management and on boards, Nesbitt also says current graduation trends will force employers to adapt in the future, if they don’t do it now.

“Women now make up 60 per cent of graduates from universities so a larger and larger proportion of educated candidates are going to women,” he tells HRD. “You are going to be compelled to learn how to work with women because that’s where the source of graduates is going to be.”

Nesbitt – who is also an adjunct professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto – says cost-free ways of improving diversity must always start from the top.

“First and foremost, I would say boards should look very closely at themselves,” he tells HRD. “Can you imagine if a board is predominantly men, what kind of example does that set for senior management?”

Secondly, Nesbitt says support from the senior leadership team is critical.

“The CEO has to set the standard to say this is important, that we’re going to set out on a new journey to achieve greater gender balance and gender intelligence, that we’re going to measure our performance, we’re going to report on our performance and we’re going to publically state that this is important to us,” he tells HRD.

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