In any conversation around the need to include diverse talent and women in leadership teams, the discussion begins with the absolute need to do so. Various studies have pointed out that a diverse team delivers 66 per cent better results than one that has the same kind of thinking. The industry is now taking the conversation forward to how to achieve this.
The leadership vision has changed in the current world scenario where there is a far greater need for motivation and inspiration. Nikki Mendonca, President EMEA, OMD described it best when she said that a leader today had to be ‘chief cheerleader’.
Sarah Mansfield, VP Global Media, Europe & Americas, Unilever added, “There is need for authentic, purpose-driven leadership and essentially being true to who you are. If you are, there is a certain aura that goes with that and people will follow you.”
In that context, the diversity discussion is well understood by the industry captains. “Diversity is not just about women. It allows for people from different background and point of views to contribute towards achieving a solution,” explained Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA, Facebook.
The real question is: what are various companies doing to achieve this. “Diversity most definitely is good business sense but the fact is that if we keep doing the things that we have been doing then we will keep getting the results we have been getting so far. We have to begin with addressing the biases we have and be honest in doing so,” Ms Mendelsohn added.
The business leaders who were speaking to Nigel Morris, CEO – Americas & EMEA, Dentsu Aegis Network at the ongoing dmexco forum in Cologne, agreed that one of the reasons why there was a dearth of women in technology companies was because lesser students saw it as a choice in school. “We have to start young. At a company level also much as to be done. We at OMD, for instance, are doing a lot of work in championing borderless communication and enabling people to learn from each other in a healthy way,” said Ms Mendonca.
Ms Mendelsohn added here that in addition to the work that companies are doing, industry professionals should ask themselves at individual level on whether they should sponsor someone and help in growing that talent.
The conversation highlighted the fact that while industry leaders have accepted the need to revisit ways of creating future leaders that while still stays with a meritocracy based system, does make efforts to give a place to the deserving on the table.