In his latest blog post, David Thomas delves into the importance of people and purpose in today's business environment. He highlights how people are a top priority for executives globally and why HR representation at the board level is critical for ensuring people remain at the heart of decision-making.
I was intrigued by the Boyden Leadership Development Team's recent survey highlighting key strategic priorities for executives globally as we start 2023. I was struck by two interesting findings, firstly the understandable priority placed on people, and secondly the lower importance placed on responsible business.
The ongoing adaptions to working practices after the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the criticality of an effective people strategy, with staff well-being, development and engagement critical to success. A McKinsey study echoed this sentiment, evidencing how investment in human capital can benefit not just the individual, but also the performance of the company.
With priority emphasis on people, it is somewhat surprising that HR continues to be underrepresented on Boards. A survey by the wellbeing organisation GoodShape revealed a concerning statistic: only 3% of FTSE 100 companies had HR representation at the top table. This is a missed opportunity; we believe the voice of HR at Board level can be a critical success factor and HR representation at the highest level is essential for entities of all sizes, ensuring people remain at the heart of critical decision-making.
The relative scoring of responsible business in the survey was unexpected. In our UK Industrial Practice, we are seeing a growing trend toward circular economy initiatives, for example in January 2023 60% of our search proposals were for groups engaged in this arena. We are passionate about supporting those that are developing technology focused on achieving net zero, and we see the vital role organisational purpose is now playing in the career choices of candidates.
Our 2022 sustainability report highlights how businesses are approaching their responsibilities through ESG and CSR initiatives. We believe that there is potential for a defined Board Directorship to focus on this critical arena, further emphasising the importance of responsible actions beyond the formulation of committees.
Thirty-six percent of respondents in a recent Deloitte survey stated purpose was as important as salary in their joining decision. We are seeing a distinct rise in prospective employees prioritising the culture, diversity and impact of a corporation before considering the financial benefits.
In today's environment, leaders face a multitude of competing priorities. However, I believe that companies who prioritise people and purpose will increasingly be better equipped to attract and retain talent, build a loyal customer base, and access investment opportunities.