Diversity and Inclusion

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Diversity and Inclusion

Kasper Fangel, Group Chief Financial Officer, ISS A/S

Kasper Fangel, Group Chief Financial Officer, ISS A/S

My four children mean the world to me, but don’t they grow up fast? And with growing up comes witnessing their first examples of social injustice. My eldest daughter is 11 and has already started asking me the tough questions: “Dad, I heard that women get paid less than men. Is it true?” “Why were people staring at the two men holding hands?”

My daughter’s questions – and my determination to try to answer them adequately - have often forced me to reflect on the social injustices faced by women and minorities a daily basis. The statistics are quite alarming: In 2020, women in the EU earned on average 13 percent less per hour than men; unemployment rates for black men in the US remain around double that of white men; and in the UK, more than a third of surveyed LGBT staff have hidden their sexual orientation at work for fear of discrimination.

Companies have both a responsibility and an opportunity to turn things around. But this isn’t only the realm of CEOs, Heads of D&I, or VPs of HR and People. As CFOs, we should be paying attention.

“A more equal workplace should be at the top of our agendas, for our current employees but also for future generations”

As a collective, we tend to be naturally drawn towards facts and figures; things that can be measured. The concept of ‘company culture’, discovering hidden structures of discrimination, and reflecting on inherent behavioural bias… I don’t mind admitting that these are daunting to a numbers guy like myself. But that’s also why I need to understand.

There is an overwhelming business case for strong diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Diverse management teams are shown to have increased revenue by 19 percent , while diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee. Moreover, according to McKinsey, “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.”

It’s no surprise when you think about it. Certainly, in my experience, a more inclusive and diverse workforce fosters greater belonging, creativity, job satisfaction, and increased productivity. It also gives us the range of competencies needed to be competitive in the market.

At ISS, we have 350,000 ‘placemakers’ of more than 200 nationalities. We are, by definition, a diverse company. But diversity extends beyond nationalities. We’ve set ambitious targets for women leadership, as well as numerous programmes to empower minority and vulnerable groups. We’ve also been working to make our workplace culture more inclusive over the past few years, for example through amended employment and recruitment policies. And as a leader in workspace experience, we’re constantly looking to push boundaries for our customers, which extends to more inclusive physical spaces, such as increased accessibility measures, dedicated faith rooms or expanded canteen offerings.

We’re not perfect, but we’re moving in the right direction. I feel the change, too. There’s a buzz about what we’re doing and who we’re trying to be as a company.

Belonging, diversity, and inclusivity may be more difficult to measure than statistics for the annual financial report, but their value is just as high, if not higher. A more equal workplace should be at the top of our agendas, for our current employees but also for future generations.

 

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