Talk of the benefits of diversity is everywhere. Gender in particular. So much so that people are starting to look at it cynically. Yet the benefits of getting more women (and other minorities) appropriately represented within each layer of the organisation are profound. Report after report, measure after measure prove to us that (1) the financial benefits of balanced company boards cannot be underestimated (2) the case for what is often referred to as ‘feminine leadership’ is becoming incontestable, and (3) talk of business survival in the future appears to hinge on that business’ ability to adapt to a more flexible, more collaborative style of management. 
So if your company is considering diversity for the sake of diversity, for the sake of appearances or for the sake of complying with client demands, it is missing a trick! There is really no if’s or but’s about it: embracing gender diversity – the traits which we refer to as 21st century leadership – must become central to any leadership strategy of a company that wants to continue to thrive in the future.
But where do you start?
One thing you could do is look at your clients and mirror them.
Easy, right? After all, we all know what our clients look like, what they like, how they assess transactions, where there pressure points are. We also know what their teams look like, the composition of their decision-making bodies, and those who are likely to make the deciding call on any new deal.
Yet increasingly so, clients are starting to challenge service providers to show them that our services will heed relevant diversity requirements: a certain percentage of women on the team delivering the services, a certain number of other minorities represented in the business. We’ve encountered a number of businesses whose pitches for new business didn’t succeed because they couldn’t evidence the requisite diversity required by the client.
If your company has been in this situation before, the best way to ensure it doesn’t happen again is to understand clearly the composition of the client’s teams – not only today but their aspirations for that composition tomorrow. Many clients will have targets that they will want to meet reflecting certain percentages on their teams and on their promotion lists. Find out what they are and reflect them in your own business. You may not get there tomorrow but you will have taken the first step to show the client that you are as serious about diversity as they are; that you’re not just assembling a team to meet their requirements but are genuinely interested in reflecting the client’s own attempts to become more diverse. They will thank you for it in many different ways, one of which might very well be that new deal.
Voice At The Table are a boutique gender diversity consultancy. We work with professional women to build confidence, resilience and initiative. We also work with companies to make them more inclusive. In this way, we aim to build and sustain your female talent pipeline.