The pandemic and subsequent challenges of the past few years have highlighted, and even aggravated, the existing social issues in our communities.
Rapid changes across all areas of businesses have resulted in various shifts – from consumer behaviour to workforce culture, and even the role of corporations in society.
As company leaders strive to ensure their businesses are resilient to the volatile environment, they are increasingly advancing their DE&I strategies to create a supportive working culture for employees.
In addition, the pandemic has amplified the importance of empathetic leadership and purpose-driven initiatives, which has led to a greater push in creating an inclusive workplace.
Today, DE&I is not just a cultural issue, but also a key driver of better business outcomes.
High-performing and successful boards operate at their fullest potential when they include members from different ages, races, ethnicities, disability statuses, sexual orientations, educational and cultural backgrounds and even personality traits.
The same can be said of CEOs who helm the day-to-day business operations. Over the past few years, the level of emphasis and action placed on promoting workplace DE&I has grown, along with the increased demand for leadership accountability on stronger DE&I initiatives.
Among the various business industries, the financial services industry particularly demands for more flexibility and a deeper dialogue on diversity in the boardroom.
By having more women assuming leadership positions, businesses can tap into wider debates, such as the gender pay gap, workplace policies, and other barriers women face in this industry.
This year, the banking sector lands among the top 3 industries with the highest percentage of female CEOs globally. Looking at a more specific setting, companies in Australia and New Zealand are making significant progress in promoting gender diversity at the executive level.
Our Route to the Top 2022 report – which analyses the profiles of more than 1,000 CEOs at the largest publicly listed companies globally – reveals that the number of female CEOs in the ANZ market is at 13%, almost doubling from last year (7%) and the current global average (7%).
This trend reflects the growing awareness and importance of having women among the top management level. Greater presence of women in leadership can offer new perspectives and even inspire changes to accelerate growth and business success.
While gender is a key marker of diversity and is often considered as the symbol of promoting diversity, businesses should also consider the importance of diversified experiences when appointing leaders.
In ANZ, companies are looking into CEOs with more international and cross-sector exposure in response to the highly globalised and competitive business world. Businesses are turning to leaders with a diverse background to help lead conversations with wider audiences.
Similar to how ANZ companies are leading in the number of female CEOs, the number of CEOs with cross-border and cross-sector experience in the ANZ market outweighs other Asia-Pacific markets, such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
Today’s increasingly globalised business landscape calls for business agility in order to thrive and stay competitive.
By putting people first, businesses are forming the fundamental inclusive and equitable environment of an adaptive organisation that welcomes change and flexibility.
Committing to strong DE&I initiatives and bringing diversity into decision-making are among the many ways to drive stronger business performance. When looking into workforce diversity, CEOs can be seen as a key indicator of progress or lack thereof.
Therefore, diverse representation in the executive role is critical to demonstrate an organisation’s commitment to DE&I and the advancement and growth of their businesses.