Boyden Executive Search

The final installment of our series on the transforming Chief Human Resources Officer role focuses on the challenges of organizational diversity.

Current State

Most HR decision makers report diversity in their organizations. However, perceptions about diversity vary on a regional basis and on the level within the organization.

Nearly three fourths (72%) of HR decision makers say that entry-level and junior members of their organizations are diverse. This number is slightly lower in Canada (60%) and Germany (62%), while HR decision makers in Brazil (44%) and Australia (42%) say their junior-level employees are extremely diverse. Age, too, had an effect on response: Those under 45 (77%) are more likely to report diversity at the junior level than those over 45 (63%).

“The preference for ‘diversity of skills’ over ‘diversity of background’ is concerning and a potential risk. It is a temptation to stock the boardroom and C-Suite with people with similar backgrounds, just from different corners of the business world. The true value of diversity is captured when team members approach the same challenge based on different backgrounds, thought processes, and problem-solving techniques.” 
– Steve Nilsen, Partner, Boyden United States

There was a drop-off in reported levels of diversity when it came to assessing mid-level talent. Only 58% say that middle management is diverse, and only one in five (22%) say middle management is extremely diverse. Again, regional differences were present. 80% of HR executives in Mexico reported that mid-level management is diverse, compared to just 50% in Australia.

“The ideal is to have a team that is diverse when it comes to both skill sets and backgrounds – that is utopia.”
–​ Shannon DiPietro, Vice President, Human Resources, Thermo Fisher Scientific

We see another drop when considering diversity levels within senior management. Just under half (47%) say that senior management is diverse, and only 19% say that senior management is extremely diverse. This number was highest again in Mexico, with 72% saying that senior management was extremely diverse, and lowest in Canada and the UK (34% each). Once again, those under the age of 45 (51%) are more likely to report diversity at the senior level than those over 45 (38%).

“At Boyden Australia, since 2014, 44% of all our executive search appointments have been women. This is a positive step towards achieving sustainable gender diversity at the most senior levels of leadership.” 
–​ Barry Bloch, Partner, Boyden Australia

Levels lower once again as we move to the C-Suite – only 45% of HR executives report diverse C-Suites. As before, this increases in Mexico, with 76% reporting that the C-Suite is diverse and 48% selecting extremely diverse. The lowest amount of diversity was reported among the Board of Directors. Only 41% of HR decision makers say their board is diverse.

On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you describe the diversity of talent at your organization?

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