With diversity and inclusion, “you get a lot back”

VIDEO | With time, most companies have become aware of the value also of mixed backgrounds and mindsets – and of the risks that face organisations where unbothered middle-aged men just staff up their offices with their look- and think-alikes. A panel in the Treasury 360° Nordic programme looked into what this requires in terms of best practices, and pitfalls to avoid.

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By the self-description of Mumtaz Dole-Allera, Head of Treasury & Banking Solutions at Vestas, she “ticks the boxes” on many of the stereotypical measures of diversity: being “a woman of colour, a muslim …and short …”. Yet the point is that that is not the point.

Managing for diversity and inclusion is a skill, and in Vestas it is one that is now being fostered systematically, on scale with about 200 managers throughout the organisation. The purposes are manyfold. Interacting with business colleagues and counterparties of many backgrounds is one, but it is also about being able to assess general problems from different angles. For this reason, Mumtaz Dole-Allera cautions against promoting diversity as “trendy”.

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“We can not do it just for now, then get tunnel vision when you get into hard times,” she said.

If viewed instead as a capability, that same diversity will be a source of corporate strength in hard times.

“We need to find a way in the corporates to keep this in our DNA. In sickness and health,”

Beside Mumtaz Dole-Allera, the panel was made up of
Cornelia Hesse, former Board Member, European Association of Corporate Treasurers, and
Royston Da Costa, Assistant Treasurer, Ferguson plc,
under moderation by Caroline Stockmann, Chief Executive ACT, Board member EACT and Deputy Chair IGTA.

Cornelia Hesse described her experience of how an initiative to develop diversity and a sense of inclusion had made teams more attractive not only for apparent members of certain backgrounds, but generally. “You get a lot back,” she concluded.

Royston Da Costa’s group Ferguson is a US based provider in the space of heating and plumbing – traditionally solidly white and male. As that industry is becoming more diverse, the inclusive efforts in the company are paying off.

“We believe this has to start from the top,” he said firmly.

Awareness topics that his group highlights now include the menopause.

As final advice, Royston Da Costa encouraged treasurers to be, above all, generally open to change. Cornelia Hesse threw in a diversity parameter that doesn’t always pop up: intelligence: we shouldn’t be afraid to hire team mates who are more intelligent than ourselves. Our job as managers is not to be the most intelligent members on our teams.

 


• News around Treasury 360° Nordic 2023, on 20 April, is gathered here.
• The conference info site, with detailed agenda, is here.
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