Richard Purcell looks at how equality in companies can work to the benefit of all and ensure firms respond well to change
Diversity is an issue that affects us all, and when it comes to improving this area it is easy to focus on physical differences like gender, ethnicity and age. But just as important are those differences that are not immediately obvious, such as religious beliefs, sexual preferences and socio-economic background.
Then there are character traits too, which are equally important considerations when putting together an effective team.
As for the benefits of diversity, there are numerous studies that show companies with more mixed boards tend to see better performance.
This 'diversity dividend' is often put down to a wider reach of people being open to, and focusing more time on, new ideas. It means the most diverse companies are the ones likely to respond best, and benefit most from, new technologies that are likely to disrupt the markets we work in. One such new technology is driverless cars, as Tim Marlow explores, while Karin Neelsen investigates the impact of new cancer diagnostics.
There are also wider benefits of diversity for society. For example, encouraging older people to remain in or re-join the workforce can soften the costs of an ageing population. Dr Chris Ball looks at progress, but suggests there is more work to do and believes more innovative government policy will help bring about cultural change.
This month The Actuary also talks to the IFoA’s Diversity Advisory Group. Chika Aghadiuno and Helen Croft discuss some of their successes and why a focused strategy starting with gender can provide a catalyst for change in other areas. They recognise more work is required though, particularly keeping more women in the profession, and encourage us all to do our part. It's clear that while progress has been made on diversity, there is still much more we have to do.