Diversity in business is a much talked about topic. There are many reports available which demonstrate the direct correlation between diverse leadership, both in gender and ethnicity, and that of business success and profitability.

Even with this research, it still seems businesses are slow to adapt and change their approach to hiring the right talent for their leadership teams. According to a recent article from the Financial Times, numbers of female and minority board directors at Russell 3000 companies have not accelerated despite years of corporate pledges to improve diversity. ¹

Profitability should not be the only driver to become a more diverse organisation. Likewise profitability should not be the only measure of business success when implementing a diversity strategy. Studies show that employee engagement and customer behaviour are strongly linked to diversity and inclusion. For long term success, companies should consider the overall positive impact of an intentional diversity and inclusion policy on all aspects of business, rather than focusing solely on the bottom line.

As a global executive search and headhunting firm, we have looked at the trend in hiring we have seen as a business over the last couple of years, specifically around gender. In 2019, 44% of the placements we made were female senior executives. In 2020 this figure dropped slightly to 40%. The significant difference between these 2 years was not the 4% decrease, it was in fact that in 2019 only 25% of those placements were the client requesting a female executive, whereas in 2020 100% were at the client request.

JMR diversity stats, 2020.
JMR diversity stats, 2019.

Note: 2020 34% of all placements were minority/LGBTQ.  2019 – 53% of all placements were minority/LGBTQ. (Females were not included in these stats unless they met the other criteria). 

This is great news for positive discrimination going in the right direction and companies looking to diversify their teams, but the reality is the growth is still slow.

This could be for many reasons. One possible answer, in our experience, is that there is a larger availability of male candidates in search pools. When we get asked to present candidates for roles, on average only one third of all candidates sourced are women. This indicates that the quality of female candidates available is high, based on our placement ratios, although the number of available candidates is significantly lower than their male counterparts.

The question now is if companies begin to drive their recruitment strategy to align with diversity and inclusion policies, will there be enough high-quality diverse candidates to fulfil their needs? It is likely companies will have to expand their traditional thinking and search channels to recruit the highest quality executive talent by looking in pools that include alternative skills, management levels and experience.

How can JMR help?

There are several ways JMR Global Executive Search experts can help you meet the demand of business diversification, from advising on how to diversify leadership in your business, and succession planning to increase diversity at board level, through to our varied and meticulous search techniques within our vast network of executives and externally.

¹ https://www.ft.com/content/dbbc0f46-163e-4cce-abfa-31d2f9e44230