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White Men Hold Key to Equality


Male leaders hold the key to successful culture change and the creation of diversity and gender equality within organisations, according to new research.

The study by Opportunity Now said that diversity is more than having policies and objectives in place; it is about transforming how organisations work.

It therefore requires men’s active support if diversity is to be successfully integrated into the day-to-day work and practices of an organisation, suggests the report.

Organisations, therefore, need to move beyond the business benefits of diversity to engage senior men at a personal level in order to change organisational culture.

John Varley, deputy chief executive of Barclays Bank, which sponsored the research, said: “Cultures can be changed but only if enough of us – white men – want the change.”

Such findings might lead many to conclude that prospects for women are fairly gloomy.

However, the report charts the culture change in some companies, such as Barclays, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Proctor and Gamble.

Such actions mean challenging the status quo, and many of those interviewed suggested that to do so requires an element of personal or professional risk-taking.

One manager called this “moral courage”.

Ed Smith, chair of the Opportunity Now integration taskforce, which commissioned the research, and a senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “The only risk is actually to do nothing to promote the inclusion of women at all levels.

"Doing nothing will ensure a genteel decline in competitiveness: customers will notice, employees will notice and potential recruits will notice.

"As that happens, investors too will notice and the business cycle of capital funding growth will start to slow as such investment migrates to those who “get it”; those who understand the logic of diverse and inclusive organisations.”

* To view and executive summary of Diversity Dimensions: Integration into Organisational Culture, go to


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