Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
We foster diversity of people and commonality of purpose
The business case for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) 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 greater employee engagement.
For diversity and equality to be achieved, organisations need to recruit, attract and retain diverse talent. Therefore access to diverse talent is vital. We work with our clients to understand their needs, help them to access diverse talent pools and challenge them on their practices to ensure an inclusive process.
“In 2020, over 60% 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 diversity of their boards”
Warren Partners actively promotes Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) both internally, and across our client and candidate talent pools. To support gender diversity we were early adopters of the Davies Committee Enhanced Code of Conduct for Executive Search firms and are today signatories and active contributors to the work of both the Hampton-Alexander, and Parker Reviews – focused on improving gender and ethnic diversity on UK Boards and within the executive pipeline.
What’s more we are one of only three search firms recognised by the Hampton-Alexander Review and accredited by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills for our work in ensuring greater gender diversity is achieved beyond the FTSE350 by delivering 40% female longlists and at least 40% female appointments. In the last 12 months, 58% of our Board appointments have been women.
In recent years we have also focussed our attention on growing ethnically diversity talent pools, engaging with new networks and sources to identify existing and emerging talent from whilst taking an active role in shaping broader diversity guidelines for our industry.
We recognise the important role we play in supporting chairs, nominations committees, CEOs and Chief People Officers as they take steps to enhance the diversity of their boards in both executive and non-executive roles and have tailored/adopted a number of recommendations and toolkit initiatives from both reviews to assist our clients in meeting their diversity objectives; these include:
Board succession planning
We support Chairs and their Nomination Committees in developing Board succession plans that identify the balance of experience and skills that they will need to recruit, both in the case of short term, unexpected need and in the medium to long term. These plans take into account board effectiveness reviews and the outcomes of a skills gap analysis. This allows a broader view to be established by looking at the whole board, not individual hire considerations; this facilitates increased flexibility when designing candidate specifications and thus greater diversity of thought.
Executive pipeline & diversity
We also support Nominations Committees, CEOs and Chief People officers in developing clear, appropriate targets for enhancing diversity in senior executive roles and in developing plans to strengthen the pipeline of diverse candidates.
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.
We formulate non-discriminatory role profiles and work to ensure that assignment briefs are framed in an open and inclusive a way as possible, this is particularly important with Chair roles. 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 40% of the candidates are women and we meet our specific targets for ethnic diversity - and, if not, we explicitly justify why we are convinced that there are no other qualified 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 diverse candidate on the longlist and aiming to have at least two woman and one ethnically diverse candidate whom we would strongly recommend that our client should meet.
During the selection process, we provide appropriate support to candidates, this is particularly important for first-time candidates and candidates from diverse backgrounds. We prepare each candidate for interview and guide them through the process. We invest time in addressing candidate concerns, and support talent in preparation for board level appointments; providing access to networks and mentoring.
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 'on-boarding' and induction processes, in addition to providing coaching services designed to help new board directors or senior executive hires to settle quickly into their roles and maximise their impact and contribution.
Embedding best practice
We have implemented accountability mechanics within our business to embed and monitor ED&I activity and achievements. Notably 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 Enhanced Voluntary Code is effectively monitored. We discuss (or arrange training on) unconscious biases and how to reduce their impact.
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 and ethnically diverse candidates. In 2019, over 58% of our appointments were women.
Broadening the candidate pool
We continuously seek to broaden our own networks of potential candidates and sources to encourage greater diversity. We leverage, as appropriate, external lists produced by relevant organisations; we encourage sourcing of recommendations for the role to think beyond the most obvious candidates; and we thoroughly search within a range of networks, formal and informal, for sources and candidates with diverse backgrounds.
Warren Partners commitment
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 a strong representative balance in our own organisation.
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 continually strive to achieve greater ethnic representation amongst our colleagues. We’ve also found that as a an employee owned business with inclusivity at the heart, 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; we are champions of the Hampton Alexander and Parker Reviews; and active promoters of tools such as KPMG Connect on Boards.
As part of our continued commitment to supporting equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, both at board and senior management level, Warren Partners have become signatories to the likes of the NWBLT Women in Leadership Charter and 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). We are also supporting the CBI’s Change the Race Ratio - a campaign to increase racial and ethnic participation in British businesses.
In our important position as an executive search firm, we set clear diversity linked performance goals for all our team. Victoria Gee, Managing Partner, “The business case for equality, diversity and inclusion 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.”
Our approach combines specialist expertise with rigorous adherence to ethical and professional standards. It engenders a level of trust and engagement in our candidates and clients that provides access to the very best talent.
At Warren Partners we take diversity and equality very seriously. We work with our clients and candidates to build understanding, whilst proactively devolving diverse talent pools. We are one of just a handful of firms who have been accredited by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills for our commitment to delivering greater gender diversity in the Boardroom.
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If you are an Executive Search professional and are looking for a role where you will be valued and an organisation which will allow you to be the best in your field, then we would love to hear from you.