As part of our plans to drive forward a more inclusive vision of doing business in London, we’ve launched a series of short interviews to find out what some of our members are doing to improve inclusion and diversity (I&D) within their own organisations.
We hear from Paul Drechsler CBE, who was appointed the Chair of London First in 2018. Paul is Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce ICC (UK), Non-Executive Director of Greencore Plc, and Independent Director of Schroder & Co. Ltd. He is also Chancellor of Teesside University and a member of the Global Advisory Board of Trinity College Dublin.
Q: Why is having an inclusive and diverse working environment so important?
In a war for attracting the very best talent, recruiting, retaining and promoting is the key to innovation, growth and winning. But, more importantly, it’s about living the values.
Q: What has your career journey highlighted for you in terms of the value of embracing diversity?
The joy of meeting and getting to know people with different perspectives, beliefs and ideas has certainly highlighted and taught me the importance of embracing diversity.
Q: What was the spur for your business in becoming more proactive on I&D?
A combination of values, competition, and society.
Q: When it comes to improving diversity at a senior level, what does your company do to support people from under-represented groups in their journey to the top?
I strongly believe in appointing under-represented groups to the top table and the value that adds to everybody. Off the back of that, having great role models and active sponsorship of talent is essential for any business looking to develop its inclusion and diversity strategy.
Q: What are the most innovative steps your company has taken on I&D?
I liked Greencore Group Plc’s marking of World Day for Cultural Diversity. It celebrated the diverse culture and heritage of its colleagues by creating a cookbook containing their favourite recipes and stories, bringing people together through a love of great food.
Q: Are there any other companies that you feel are at the forefront of this journey?
Timpson, Diageo, the NHS and many media companies are taking action. However, the Parker Review would suggest that in terms of public companies in the UK, none are far enough in front.
Q: What is a key piece of advice for companies just starting their inclusion and diversity journeys?
Figure out your authentic ‘why’. Then, start a conversation and engage under-represented groups in guiding, directing and, if possible, leading the journey.
London First is on a mission to keep London at the forefront of global business, working with and for the whole UK. If you’re interested in becoming a member or want to find out more about our sponsorship activities, get in touch with us today.