Diversity & Equality

We foster diversity of people, but commonality of purpose

Diversity & Equality

The business case for diversity and equality in executive recruitment is well documented. Treating people fairly and equally, while embracing diversity has a positive business impact. Organisations whose people and leadership teams’ best reflect and represent their customer base and communities are reporting greater market competitiveness, innovation, enhanced sustainability and employee engagement.

For diversity and equality to be achieved, organisations need to retain their diverse talent and have access to diverse talent pools externally. We work with our clients to understand their needs and formulate non-discriminatory role profiles, while building diverse talent pools from which we can draw. The key areas of focus include increasing the proportion of women and broadening ethnic diversity.

To support gender diversity we have adopted the Davies Committee Enhanced Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search firms. What’s more, we are one of a handful of search firms who have been accredited by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills for delivering 33% female longlists and 33% female appointments in our board work. We recognise the important role we play in supporting chairs, nominations committees, CEOs and CHROs as they take steps to enhance the diversity of their boards, in both executive and non-executive roles, and in their senior executive ranks. We also take an active role in shaping broader diversity guidelines for our industry.

“In 2016, 36% of our board appointments were women. We recognise the important role we play in supporting chairs and nominations committees as they take steps to increase the proportion of women on their boards”

Board succession planning

We support chairs and their nomination committees in developing medium-term succession plans that identify the balance of experience and skills that they will need to recruit, over the next two to three years, to maximise board effectiveness. This time frame allows a broader view to be established by looking at the whole board, not individual hires; this facilitates increased flexibility in candidate specifications.

Executive succession planning

We support nominations committees, CEOs and CHROs in developing clear, appropriate targets for enhancing diversity in senior executive roles and in developing plans to strengthen the pipeline of diverse candidates.

Diversity goals

When taking a specific brief, we look at the overall board or senior executive composition and, in the context of the business's agreed aspirational goals on gender balance and diversity more broadly, explore with our client if recruiting women and/or ethnically diverse individuals is a priority on this occasion.

Defining briefs

We work to ensure that significant weight is given to relevant skills, underlying competencies and personal capabilities and not just proven career experience, in order to extend the pool of candidates beyond those with existing board roles or conventional corporate careers.


When presenting longlists, we ensure that at least 30% of the candidates are women - and, if not, we explicitly justify why we are convinced that there are no other qualified female options, by demonstrating the scope and rigour of our research. We also ensure that shortlists are appropriately reflective of the longlist, discussing with clients each woman on the longlist and aiming to have at least one woman whom we would ‘strongly recommend’ that our client should meet. We also discuss and agree with the client and meet specific targets for ethnic diversity on the longlist.

Candidate support

During the selection process, we provide appropriate support, in particular to first-time candidates, to prepare them for interviews and guide them through the process.

Supporting candidate selection

As clients evaluate candidates, we ensure that they continue to provide appropriate weight to intrinsic competencies and capabilities, supported by thorough referencing, rather than over-valuing certain kinds of experience. As necessary, we advise clients on how to run their interview process to demonstrate the required rigour and professionalism and share best practices on how to reduce the impact of unconscious biases.


We provide advice to our clients on best practice in induction and 'onboarding' processes, in addition to providing coaching services designed to help new board directors or senior executive hires settle quickly into their roles and maximise their impact and contribution.

Embedding best practice

We ensure that best practices in supporting clients on enhancing board and senior executive diversity are well-documented and shared internally and that adherence to the Code is effectively monitored. We discuss (or arrange training on) unconscious biases and how to reduce their impact.

Signalling commitment

We signal our commitment to supporting diversity on boards and in senior executive ranks, and our adherence to the Code, through our marketing activity, client discussions and by investing time in developing a relationship with the pipeline of future female candidates. In 2016, 36% of our board appointments were women.

Broadening the Candidate Pool

We seek to broaden our own networks of potential candidates, leveraging as appropriate external lists produced by relevant organisations. We invest time in developing relationships with the pipeline of future female and ethnically diverse candidates.

Women in Finance Charter

As part of our continued commitment to supporting diversity and equality in the workplace, both at board and senior management level, Warren Partners have joined other organisations as signatories for the Women in Finance Charter. “The Women in Finance Charter is a commitment by HM Treasury and signatory firms to work together to build a more balanced and fair industry. The Charter reflects the government’s aspiration to see gender balance at all levels across financial services firms.” (www.womeninfinance.org)

As well as working with key stakeholders and our clients to help build diverse talent pools in their organisations, we are wholeheartedly committed to maintaining good balance in our own organisation. That’s why whether recruiting for our clients, or ourselves, the principles of the Enhanced Voluntary Code of Conduct and ensuring we deliver a longlist which represents at least 33% women is fundamental.

Our own business goal is 50% female representation amongst our senior executives and that’s something we’re achieving and aim to maintain going forward. We’ve also found that as a business founded and led by women, we have no disconnect between reward and gender – fair treatment, pay or otherwise, is inherent in our goal of ‘treating others as we want to be treated’.

We are one of the few search firms that has been awarded the ‘Beyond FTSE 350’ accreditation for our work in supporting and appointing more women onto boards. We are also participants and ambassadors of the 30% Club Mentoring scheme, helping high achieving women further develop.

Vicky Lawton, Managing Director is the senior executive accountable for gender diversity at Warren Partners: “We know the business case for diversity and equality is well documented. But it’s about more than just the numbers, treating people fairly and equally, while embracing diversity has a much broader business and social impact. Warren Partners are passionate about supporting the case for greater diversity and helping our clients to achieve this, we don’t just say it, we aim to set the standard.”