How to navigate diversity and parity in a global industry

Jun 07 | 2022

Steve Jordan reports on the DE&I discussion at the FIDI conference in Cannes. It was a session that was expected to raise the temperature a little, but not so. This time the message seemed to be different.

The diversity panel For some, discussing DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion), is tricky.  It’s like walking on egg shells.  Everyone understands that it’s important, but nobody wants to upset anyone along the way and be guilty of the very thing everyone is trying to eradicate.  The session at the FIDI conference could have suffered from the same problem. But it didn’t. In fact, as a disinterested observer, I found the discussion quite liberating.

Simone Percy from Oman Beverly Smyth did an excellent job of moderating the discussion.  The panel consisted of: Derek Duffy from Armstrong in Canada; Ben Ivory from Graebel in the USA; Natasha Tavoukjian from Orbit in Cyprus; Linda Rovekamp from De Hann in the Netherlands; and Juan Diaz from Intramar in Colombia. 

Simone introduced the subject by illustrating the disparity between male and female leaders in FTSE100 companies. Closer to home she said that within the FIDI membership, only 25% of CEOs are female.  “Not enough,” she said. But, as the discussion progressed, instead of degenerating into a debate purely about equal opportunities, it became much more nuanced and, to my mind, more helpful.

The panel first looked at what DE&I meant to them.  Natasha illustrated that even in her company, which is family owned, there had been doubt about whether she, as a female, had been suitable to work in sales and, later in her career, in management. The implication being that if it can happen within a family unit in that way, it can happen anywhere.

But generally, there was an acknowledgement that having a diverse workforce is positive ...

Photo: The panel discussion.

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