Getting Real about Diversity & Inclusion in Treasury
By Eleanor Hill, Editor
A recent roundtable discussion hosted by TMI saw five industry experts debate the best way to move the needle on diversity and inclusion in treasury. The freewheeling conversation looked at everything from new tactics for ensuring suppliers – including banks – meet D&I criteria, to helping transgender employees feel comfortable bringing their true selves to work and ensuring colleagues with disabilities enjoy full access to the workplace.
It’s easy to sit in an ivory tower and pontificate about diversity and inclusion (D&I) in treasury. Enacting it is an altogether different scenario, especially when treasury talent pools are not always overflowing with ideal candidates, let alone diverse ones.
Nevertheless, as the treasurer’s role as a strategic partner to the business grows, and treasury departments transition from cost centres to profit centres, D&I is becoming a more pressing priority for treasury leaders. But how can treasurers do more to advance D&I? Where does more attention need to be focused? And what are the business benefits of making D&I the new standard? These questions and more were answered during TMI’s inaugural D&I Roundtable Debate, featuring:
- Luc Vlaminck, Group Treasurer & Managing Director, Rémy Cointreau
- Joanna Bonnett, Group Treasurer, PageGroup
- Lance T. Kawaguchi, Managing Director, Global Head – Corporates, Global Liquidity and Cash Management, HSBC
- Adam Richford, Head of Treasury and Investor Relations, Renewi
- Brook Ballard, Treasury Manager, Cheniere Energy
Eleanor Hill, Editor, TMI: Why do you think treasurers should pay attention to D&I? What are the potential business benefits?
Lance T. Kawaguchi
Lance T. Kawaguchi, Managing Director, Global Head – Corporates, Global Liquidity and Cash Management, HSBC: Research consistently shows that diversity in the workplace is an asset for businesses and their employees. Having a diverse workforce can increase the capacity for innovation and creativity – whereas homogeneous environments rarely promote out-of-the box thinking. For treasurers, having a diverse team that can approach challenges with fresh eyes is only going to be a benefit. And in the age of robotic treasury, creative minds will be even more highly sought after. From a banking perspective, D&I is critical because we want to mirror our client base, which is becoming more and more diverse.
Joanna Bonnett, Group Treasurer, PageGroup: The treasury profession is moving in the right direction when it comes to D&I, however key areas of the wider community are still under-represented in treasury. Nevertheless, treasurers increasingly realise that D&I is key to retaining good talent and also attracting the talent of the future. Millennials have high expectations of their employers and working environment – and the diversity of the workforce will often play a significant role in their career decisions. If, as treasury leaders, we’re not offering the flexibility, the right culture, and the right team environment, we’re just not going to attract the next generation of talent. It’s as simple as that.
Adam Richford, Head of Treasury and Investor Relations, Renewi: Diversity in its broadest sense is important in treasury because different thought processes, backgrounds and experiences all help to reduce the risk of collective decision-making. If you consistently hire people in the same mould, you risk not having sufficiently diverse views to make robust decisions. Having a diverse and inclusive workforce can lead to better solutions to the challenges you’re facing.
Brook Ballard, Treasury Manager, Cheniere Energy: I’d agree that when you have a diverse and inclusive team, one of the greatest benefits is the diversity of thought. Like Adam said, when you rely on like-minded individuals, they may not make the best-informed decision. Every single different trait and experience a person brings to the table is actually a new path towards a more rounded collective decision-making process. And for treasurers, anything that can lead to less risk in decision-making, is a huge potential benefit.
Hill: How are you changing your recruitment processes to ensure greater D&I in your treasury team?
Luc Vlaminck, Group Treasurer & Managing Director, Rémy Cointreau: Treasury teams are often quite small and lean – so there is naturally a tendency to focus on the technical abilities of the candidates we hire. But I also focus heavily on whether the individual will fit with the team and the company culture, as well as complementing the existing skills we have, while challenging us to perform better. Like many corporates, we use a recruitment agency for hiring fresh talent and we insist on diversity in our candidate list.
Bonnett: Not only do I work for a recruitment company, but I’m also recruiting myself at the moment. I asked our recruitment consultants to provide me with a diverse list of candidates – covering a variety of aspects ranging from gender and age to background. They know that I have very high standards, and they always deliver. So, as much as it is tough to recruit treasury talent and ensure the candidate pool is diverse, it is by no means impossible. And I would like to see treasurers demanding more from their recruitment consultants and HR departments going forward.
Ballard: HR helps drive our recruitment and we work closely with them, covering the aspects that Luc and Joanna have both mentioned. First and foremost, treasury requires a well-qualified individual for the role, but we insist on making that choice from a diverse candidate pool. We also ensure that candidates are interviewed by diverse representatives from the company, and a hiring decision is then made by a committee to ensure the best person for the job is hired.
Vlaminck: Continuing to support D&I after recruitment is also important – making sure that the new employee has the opportunities to use their diverse skills and thinking. So, it’s helpful to review treasury processes when a new team member comes in and to shake up the status quo. Training for new recruits is also critical, to ensure they are given the right tools to grow within the organisation and reach leadership levels, which is often where diversity is lacking.