Planning for the New World: A Q&A with Mark Atkinson
Blogs 27th September 2019 3 minutes read
Even in less disruptive times, being part of the team at Green Park wouldn’t be a choice for the fainthearted. We set ourselves high standards and tough tests. The first letter in our CREED value set is “C” – for courage. And the final “D” stands for diversity. As we’ve discovered in our company’s short life it can take bucket loads of the first to deliver a thimbleful of the last. But that’s what our teams do, day in and day out, putting talented leaders from all backgrounds in front of our clients.
I’m incredibly proud of the several hundred names our practice leaders, their associates and researchers have assembled to be considered for inclusion in this list. This year, our assessors had to be more ruthless in their selection of our 100 finalists than ever before, due to the range of high-quality talent available. The truth is that today’s businesses and institutions simply have no excuse to say that they can’t find people of colour to approach.
Our business is successful. Last year, for the third time running we achieved revenue growth of over 30%, and this year we expect to top the £95m turnover mark. That’s great for our staff and for our shareholders. But we believe that we are doing well because we stand for something more and better than being commercially savvy; our clients work with us because of our values.
Principal amongst those in recent years has been the commitment to diversity with which we launched Green Park over a decade ago. Last year, we filled a senior role with a person who was not white, male and able bodied every fourteen days. Typically, more than two out of five of our successful placements are female, and over a quarter are from ethnic minority backgrounds, way ahead of our industry averages.
No-one who knows Green Park would imagine that we focus on diversity out of the sheer goodness of our hearts (though that’s part of it, of course!). It’s because increasingly, it’s what our clients want. They know that more leadership diversity equates to better decision-making and stronger growth. They understand that no company today can expect to attract the best talent at any level if it isn’t seen to take inclusion seriously. They get the dangers inherent in groupthink. And they are increasingly facing pressure from shareholders and investors: one recent survey suggested that in the USA, the most widely supported shareholder resolutions were those that concerned disclosure of diversity data. As one of our American associates told us “if you don’t have a diversity strategy you don’t have a growth strategy”.
We are proud of the work we are doing to change the face of leadership in the UK. But we know that we can’t do this job alone. In the talent business there are many firms and dozens of them are larger than us. We think that this is one cause where professional rivalry should sometimes take a back seat. To some extent if our industry as a whole doesn’t step forward, we will all be seen as failing one of the biggest tests society is placing before private, public and third sectors today. That is one reason why I take our annual survey so seriously. It is not just a measure of others’ success – it is a clear indication of just how well the recruitment industry is doing in meeting our customers’ demands.
The fact is that whilst this year’s survey results are encouraging for Green Park, the picture isn’t so great for our sector as a whole. Whilst the gender picture is improving, when it comes to minority hirings at senior level, the UK is flatlining at a moment when its international profile should be changing to suit our global ambitions. And without delivery of this vital quality – diversity - we don’t see how we can expect people to trust the top echelons of our society.
At Green Park we are, above all, about raising the capability of leadership in Britain. We aim to be the best talent partner any business, public body or social enterprise will ever find. But we believe that sometimes, achieving that goal means working with all our partners, including those we sometimes see as rivals. So we are making this list available for everyone to see and to use. I hope that we never hear anyone utter the words “we’d love to have more diversity, but….” again. The talent is right here in these pages, ready to serve.