Exploring the Link Between Diversity and Productivity:
A Panel Discussion
by Daniel Jolles, Assistant Researcher, The Inclusion Initiative
On Wednesday 26th of April, 2023, The Inclusion Initiative (TII) celebrated the launch of a new research grant, Diversity and Productivity from Education to Workforce at The London Stock Exchange.
The research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council explores the link between diversity and productivity. The Inclusion Initiative at LSE are leading the research, in collaboration with researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, University of Sheffield, University College London and University of Warwick.
The event was hosted by Arlene McDermott, Head of Business Management Group Legal and Compliance and also co‐chair of London Stock Exchange Group’s LGBTQ+ network LSEG Pride.
Dr Grace Lordan, Founding Director of The Inclusion Initiative introduced the project,
“We’re interested in the link between diversity and productivity, but more than that we’re interested in mobilising diversity within companies so that it actually does lead to productivity boosts”.
The project consists of two key streams, the first is focused on the relationship between diversity, inclusion, and productivity. This stream explores six key questions:
1) the link between diversity and productivity at different levels of seniority and across occupations,
2) the role of organisational inclusion to reap the gains from diversity,
3) the barriers to personal productivity for diverse professionals,
4) how we get diverse teams working better together,
5) the productivity consequences of occupational mismatch across diverse groups, and,
6) how individual productivity is influenced by diversity among colleagues.
The second stream is focused on the pipeline of diverse talent, examining:
1) at which stage diverse talent is being lost,
2) how educational pathways differ for diverse individuals,
3) what education policy changes can be made to reduce inequalities, and,
4) can pathways be opened up to students so that they might make more informed choices.
Following the introduction, Arlene moderated a panel discussion featuring leading diversity experts.
Sophia Dancygier, Leader in Finance
Dawid Konotey‐Ahulu, Co‐Founder at Redington, Mallowstreet & 10000 Interns Foundation
Katherine Gansallo, Diversity and Inclusion Director at London Stock Exchange Group
Stephen van Rooyen, Chief Executive Officer, UK & Ireland and Group Chief Commercial Officer
Arlene kicked off the conversation that ‘diversity is good for business’, setting the stage for each panellist to highlight the research question that was of most interest to them.
Sophia emphasised the value of measuring diversity to bring about meaningful change, asserting “you can’t change what you don’t measure”. Sophia stressed the need to focus on decision‐making roles rather than just non‐decision‐making positions. She also acknowledged that younger companies find it easier to establish a diverse working environment and culture, while more mature companies, particularly in financial services, required concentrated efforts and data to drive change.
"Data on diversity can potentially be applied to investment decisions, as diversity of talent is believed to increase a company's
performance. However, diversity data adoption in the financial market isslow and it's an educational progress."
Katherine echoed the general consensus that diversity is good for business but highlighted the challenge of translating this into action when time, finances, and other competing priorities come into play. Katherine was excited for the research project to pinpoint specific
challenges, such as the attrition of women before reaching senior management.
"Gender used to be the main focus, but now intersectionality is crucial. Younger generations won't let older ones ignore diversity. There's not enough time to wait. Promoting diversity is crucial for a successful
Stephen affirmed the significance of data‐driven decision‐making, especially for leaders of large organisations. Stephen stressed the need for more data to make compelling arguments that will persuade business decision makers to invest more into diversity and inclusion efforts.
"Companies should take the initiative to create pipelines for hiring people with diverse backgrounds. Apprenticeship programs and pathways within organizations can draw in talent. Give people pathways and create a cultural organisation”.
Stephen van Rooyen
Dawid was most interested in the challenges faced by underrepresented groups in the talent pipeline. He used the metaphor of understanding the ‘kinks in the hosepipe’ faced by these groups along their career journeys. Dawid highlighted the common responses
given by leaders about lack of diversity and expressed hope that further research evidence would help overcome these responses in favour of action.
The panel discussed that as well as better data, one of the key benefits of the Diversity and Productivity from Education to Workforce research was moving beyond just gender and ethnicity to bring broader diversity characteristics into consideration. One of the key
challenges identified by the panel was the intersection of different diversity characteristics that make people unique (gender, race, sexuality, age, disability, etc.), and praised the project for furthering research in this area.
You can watch the full event panel discussion below, click here.
To participate in this exciting research on Diversity and Productivity, please get in touch here.
There is no cost or reputational risk to participate, and firms will have the opportunity to advance understanding about Diversity and Productivity in their teams.
A huge thanks to our host Arlene McDermott and London Stock Exchange Group, our wonderful panel, our online and in-person guests and the TII team. Further thanks to our Photographer Ernie Savarese. Please see the gallery below of DaPEW launch event.