Monthly Archives: January 2012

Simply different

In the business arena today, local no longer exists – we live in an interconnected, globalised world where companies must think on an international scale. As companies realise the need to develop globally, diversity in the workplace becomes an integral component in creating and sustaining a competitive edge. Responding to these changes requires businesses to analyse and reassess ways in which they recruit and retain their staff.

This issue of diversity within companies and across industries has been the subject of much recent press coverage and discussion. The Forbes Insight survey on ‘Global Diversity and Inclusion’ found that diversity fosters innovation and attracts high calibre graduates, a conclusion that is interesting when considered alongside the International Accounting Bulletin’s (IAB) more focused probe into diversity in our own profession. The survey reveals some both expected and surprising stats and highlights the fact that, despite great changes over the last decade, the numbers of women at partner level still remain too low to provide true diversity.

Over the course of my career I have been asked several times about being a woman in the workplace. I used to believe there was no fundamental difference between men and women in business. Recently, over time and with experience, I have come to appreciate that there is an intrinsic difference in working styles and in how both genders approach tasks such as management and problem solving. And these differences are neither negative nor positive – they are simply differences.

A truly diversified workplace can create high value for a business. Looking beyond gender, into ethnicity and age, the stronger organisations are those that are forged through contrasting outlooks, values, opinions and creativity.

How do you achieve the right balance? The answer to this question will vary by organisation and by country. As with most things in international business, different countries will have differing opinions on what balance is right for them. Finding this level and developing a culture where diversity is sought and utilised is not an easy task for any organisation but, given the growing consensus amongst analysts and commentators that it encourages company innovation and vision, it is perhaps a worthwhile ambition. And with the current economic climate, every business needs to be as innovative as possible.

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Culture, Diversity, Gender, Management

Planning for an interesting 2012

If 2011 was anything to go by we are in for a very interesting year. From The Arab Spring to hard hitting government austerity measures, the call for radical changes to banking practices and, closer to home, the long awaited debate on audit dominance – we witnessed a year of unprecedented headlines.

As business leaders, we have no control over these macro issues. Our role is to ensure our businesses are planning for change.

Looking at the global picture, and I am pleased to say there are positives out there. Just take a look at the surprise economic data rolling out from the US in the last few weeks – manufacturing is buoyant and unemployment is at a three-year low, with most jobs being created by the private sector. This indicates the plausibility of a sustainable, if mild recovery.

In China, the overheated property market is still causing concern, but  inflation is easing, providing policy makers with more tools to ensure a softer landing for the economy as it slows.

Meanwhile in Europe, there remains no solution on the horizon, and the bad news keeps mounting as more and more EU members are downgraded. Angela Merkel’s desire that the “euro must not fail, and will not fail” appears increasingly wishful thinking rather than solid policy based on the combined political will of member states. In November David Bartlett, our Economic Advisor, wrote a paper on the potential fallout from the Eurozone problems. Interestingly, he noted that leading banks were already preparing for a breakup of the currency area.

In response, the FX industry is planning to best handle post-euro break-up trade and HSBC is planning how to trade the new local currencies, as reported by Reuters. In times of uncertainty, good planning is not about predicting what will happen in the future, but instead preparing your business to cope positively with change.

2012 is likely be a year in which businesses need to be pragmatic and react quickly by building strategies to mitigate risk in an incredibly dynamic political and economic environment. I cannot think of a testier issue to start a year with than the threatened collapse of one of the world’s leading currencies.

Too big to fail? No such thing – get planning.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economy, Management, Risk, RSM Regions