A celebration of women on March 8th

  • Diversity

By Hanne de Linde

From the corner of inclusion and diversity we want to pay a special tribute to women on the international women’s day. There are a lot of things to celebrate in the world of immense and unpredictable change, and fortunately many companies are well on the move to integrating women into all levels of leadership in businesses and organisations. The world of tomorrow needs able leaders and of course we should tap into all the resources we may be able to present without simple discrimination, stereotyping and narrowmindedness blocking us.

From stereotyping leaders to finding a precisely tailored one

Looking at skills and capabilities when selecting the next leader is the natural and obvious thing to do. At Mercuri Urval, we engage in a deep analysis of the actual needs and match that need with the right person. At the end of the day, that will be the optimal solution at a concrete level and we do that precisely tailored for each individual need.

However, the thing to be observant around is that the individual perspective may be a short-term goal. Make sure to lift your lens a level up and look at the leadership context that this person will be a part of. How are the surrounding team and colleagues doing? Are they representing a degree of diversity that reflects their business situation and the market they are serving?

Hopefully, that will be the case, as leadership needs a critical level of variety and diversity to avoid falling in the traps of just repeating earlier successes in a world where the conditions may have started to change greatly.

As a clever man once said- doing the same thing over and over and expecting new outcomes- that is not sane.

How to develop a diverse and successful leadership team

When we make a workplace analysis we look for diversity primarily at leadership level, as we know that will be the best way to future-proof the business. Of course, having a diverse team may also generate friction or conflict, and it takes good leadership skills to be able to work through that. It is usually managed by deep conversations with the team, reflecting together, and listening to each other if the general friction level is elevated. The positive outcome from a diverse team composition may be innovation, creativity, more robust solutions and idea generation. And that is a needed skill-set for leading a business into the future.

33% is the golden number for inclusion a.k.a “the tipping point”

To make sure that a minority - like women at top management positions - is being included in the conversation, research shows that an organisation should strive for 33% women in the team. 33% is the tipping point, and with that (minimum) of representation, minorities will be heard, and the needed diversity will start functioning and shape the conversations in the team. This is actually the reason that companies may strive for 33% representation- not as a result of a quota, but because the team will start balancing differences when the tipping point of 33% has been reached and inclusion will grow as an effect.

Inclusion and Diversity at MU

At MU we are focused on helping businesses get the right leader on board. We naturally engage locally in many of the more than 60 countries we yearly operate in, and the most recent example is Denmark where we signed up for the Code of Conduct for Diversity in Management and Board Recruitment. It is an initiative established on request from the Ministry of Gender Equality in Denmark and being performed and researched by the Copenhagen Business School. This code of conduct has a clear focus on targeting the tipping point for women’s representation both in the long and shortlists when we find the best candidates for the jobs. Not because women should be there as fish on a quota, but because the proper representation of women will future-fit the organisation, and that is what the world of tomorrow needs.

What can you and I do?

We can start making room for this agenda when we reflect with our colleagues, clients and our families. Not as somebody who has all the answers but as curious open-minded human beings who are creating room for understanding and change. The world is changing and so are we, and by becoming more conscious and reflecting with others we can influence for the better.


About MU

MU is owned by an independent foundation – Stiftelsen MU. Its statutes form a strong and timeless commitment binding all MU colleagues and partners to pursue inclusive workplaces, equal opportunity and diverse teams and counteract all forms of unjust or unlawful discrimination:

  • Inclusive Workplaces: MU believes in treating all people with respect, dignity, and kindness. To pursue inclusive workplaces, we actively promote effective leadership, positive cooperation, open feedback, curiosity, and fairness.
  • Equal Opportunity: MU is an equal opportunity employer. We commit to inclusion of individuals in recruitment and selection to tasks and positions in our organisation based on facts relevant to requirements for success at work. We reject the use of stereotypes and work actively to minimise subjectivity in decisions making in people matters. We recognise that unjust or unlawful discrimination of different categories of people is problematic and must be counteracted. We are not unjustly or unlawfully discriminating in any aspect of employment or appointment.
  • Diverse Teams: MU recognises the importance of utilising the power of individual differences. To achieve extraordinary results, we need colleagues with different backgrounds to join and work together in effective and well-networked teams. We encourage openness and transparency about our way of working and our impact.