Striving to live and breathe diversity

Striving to live and breathe diversity

We have stepped up our activities to drive progress on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Odgers Interim and our wider group because clients’ organisations are enriched by diverse thinking drawn from talent pools that truly reflect society.

Driving progress on DEI is the right thing to do for both ethical and business reasons. In Odgers Interim we have always been committed to diversity and believe we are ahead of the game in the interim management market.

However, we recognise more can and should be done, which is why we are stepping up our activities to drive progress on DEI. Clients do not necessarily ask us to present a diverse range of candidates, but we strive to do so because it is both fair and right, and in the client’s best interests.

We are in a privileged position to ensure fair and transparent recruitment processes are run enabling opportunity to land an assignment for all. The rationale is sound: candidate shortlists that better resemble the composition of society today give organisations access to diverse thinking which research has proven can be a major factor in achieving an uplift in performance.

Here are the steps we are taking on our journey of improvements:

We have brought in an external company to deliver DEI training to staff across Odgers Berndtson, Odgers Interim and Berwick Partners.

Moreover, we have held a series of DEI events, some internally focused, others designed to help client organisations and with market education in mind.  In one event, we partnered with associations and membership bodies to help their employees, from all walks of life, access training, development and other career opportunities. Plans are afoot to host a similar event in the autumn and an important aspect of the format is to help membership bodies network with and support each other.

Another event, for Women in Social Housing (WISH), gave 120 women access to practical tips for navigating the career ladder. WISH has also used our boardroom for its own events which we have been delighted to host.

There are nine employee-run Allies groups within our business (Age, Disability, Ethnicity, Gender, LGBTQ+, Menopause, Mental Health, Neurodiversity and Social Mobility) created on the principle that all colleagues should experience equality, fairness, dignity and happiness at work. Almost a third of our workforce (and 38.2% of our Partners) are Allies and Becky Mackarel, who held two events on neurodiversity, wrote an informative piece in March 2023 on how workplace cultures can support those with neurological differences. A speaker has also given a talk about their transgender journey.

We are proud to be part of a business that earlier this year launched an Inclusive Recruitment Diagnostic tool that has already been used by over 50 leading organisations to assess the maturity of their inclusive recruitment practices. It is wonderful to observe the growing sophistication and serious commitment to DEI demonstrated by many clients.

Across Odgers, we have been analysing candidate information for years. Now is the time to shine a spotlight on the interim management business – however we must be realistic. While we have access to a large interim talent pool, the nature of the interim market means it is often the case that only a small number of candidates are available for an assignment who possess the right mix of capabilities, experience and suitability for the role. Consequently, it is not always possible to produce a diverse shortlist in such a short window of time.   

We are taking positive action by cementing inclusivity into our approach and data is an important element of this. In part we must judge ourselves by some hard numbers. We have collated the male/female attendance split for several of our events (on DEI, IR35 & our Candidate Workshops, for example). Of the 129 people who came to our IR35 event on 15 May 2023, 83 were men, and 46 women. We need to improve this gender ratio and so we have redoubled our efforts to secure information on key characteristics such as age, ethnicity and gender from the candidates shortlisted and placed by Odgers Interim. The response rate from shortlisted candidates increased from 4.2% (2022) to 15.4% (2023), while with placed candidates it leapt from 10.6% to 34.4% as we pursued data with greater vigour. We aim to boost response rates further still next year and appeal to all candidates to help us build an accurate picture. On that note, if you work with other interim managers, please do ask them to get in touch with us.

Our data for 2023 showed an increase in the percentage of male candidates (both placed and shortlisted), with female candidates comprising 26% of the total. This is broadly in line with the industry benchmark – the Institute of Interim Management’s annual survey released in June 2023 put female candidates at 29.7% – although clearly we are keen to improve on this proportion.

There was a slight decrease in the proportion of our candidates identifying as heterosexual (to 91%) and also a small decrease in those who had the same gender identity as registered at birth. As for age profile, that remained consistent with last year: the majority falling between ages 55-64.

In terms of ethnicity, while the IIM survey reported an industry average of 82.2% of candidates identifying as White, in our case 77% of candidates said they were White. Again, we are proud of the work we are doing to tap into ethnically diverse talent.

There is no room for complacency around DEI and we accept we can improve in this respect. We are striving to live and breathe diversity, equity and inclusion and this is not only good for our business, it is even more vital and rewarding for our clients and candidates.


Dr Darren Hall at 31/08/2023 14:46 said:

Lots of bold assertions made as statements of fact that diversity is better without any evidence, then the acknowledgement that the candidate pool possessing the right mix of skills, capability and experience may not be diverse, without any recognition of the contradiction in your own logic. There may be some very large candidate groups once the many permutations of intersectionality have been included, so much so that clients may revert to relevant skills and experience for selection.

Odgers Interim at 13/09/2023 17:01 said:

Given studies such as McKinsey’s Diversity Wins, which finds “not only that the business case remains robust but also that the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance has strengthened over time”, we would argue that there is substance to our assertions. Yes, we are not always able to present clients with a diverse pool of candidates – yet where possible, we strive to do so. That is not a contradiction, it is the reality of the situation. And very much the right thing to do. Clients will of course always want candidates with the relevant skills and experience, which is what we supply.

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