Asha Kumar, HSBC CIO: Diversity and inclusion are not one-and-the-same

Tom Allen
clock • 2 min read
Studies agree that diverse leadership is key to success
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Studies agree that diverse leadership is key to success

Diversity is a driver of inclusion, but it isn't the whole story.

Women have been instrumental in and spearheading technology for more than 300 years: from French mathematician and astronomer Nicole-Reine Lepautre in the 18th Century and Ada Lovelace in the 19th, to the many influential women of the 20th century - including Karen Spärck Jones, Mary Keller and Elizabeth Feinler. And there are many more to come!

Success relies on a diverse and inclusive workforce, Asha Kumar - UK CI of wealth & personal banking at HSBC - told attendees at Computing's Women in Tech Festival last month. The women of the last 300 years made great achievements - just imagine what they could have done if they had had the same support offered to their male peers.

That is why is diversity and inclusion (D&I) is such an important topic today, one that should be at the heart of any organisation's strategy. It has a huge impact on employee engagement and profitability: companies with more than 30 per cent women executives tend to outperform companies with fewer, and firms in the top quartile of ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed those in the bottom quartile by more than a third, according to a McKinsey report on the topic released last year.

We have to be very clear about the difference between diversity and inclusion. Simply hiring diverse talent is not enough: it is workplace experiences that shape whether someone wants to stay. Diversity is a driver of inclusion, but it isn't the whole story.

The same McKinsey report quoted above shows sentiment towards existing diversity initiatives among employees was 52 per cent positive in 2020, and 31 per cent negative; but sentiment towards inclusion initiatives was only 29 per cent positive and 61 per cent negative. Clearly, companies still have work to do.

"If we want to get this balance right, companies will need to take a very systematic approach, which is business-led and data-driven, to drive diversity and inclusion."

The Women in Tech Festival will return next year!

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