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Women in business champion

Q&A with Isabel Perea

Isabel Perea GaviriaIsabel Perea Gaviria, partner, Grant Thornton Spain says that understanding the value of the whole and of embracing difference in a team will help companies win the war for talent.






In your firm, what are the benefits you see from having teams with greater gender diversity?

Diversity is a business imperative. Diverse teams bring a greater breadth of vision and different outlooks to analysis and decision-making processes. Let’s remember that men and women have different perceptions of risk and opportunity, as shown in our 2017 report.

Additionally, a business culture that focuses on achieving gender diversity across all levels increases its ability to attract the best talent, which is probably one of today’s greatest challenges. The best companies are the ones with the best talent.

How can businesses make a connection between diversity and their business goals?

To achieve strategic goals we need to have the best teams. Wasting 50% of our talent is a loss in terms of value. There is no point in companies being willing to give up talented people because they are unable to make the cultural changes required to adapt to the needs and demands of society.

It’s not just about what women need, it's about what society demands. On the other hand, it would be helpful if business objectives not only focused on economic issues, but also included a diversity goal, so that it was easily quantifiable when assessing male and female executives.

What do you believe holds women back from being recruited to senior management positions?

The sacrifice, the aspects you have to give up on a personal level, and even the fact that women feel judged for having decided to pursue their professional career. And all of this coupled with the knowledge that they are not valued in the same way as their male colleagues, which is reflected in continued pay gap differences. Many women are tired of having to rush from one task to another, feeling that they are not doing anything well. Gender stereotypes and education itself also continue to play a crucial role in shaping established thinking.

How can routes to career development and advancement be opened up to more women?

A company’s culture must be geared towards achieving equality in a way that facilitates and guarantees equal opportunities for men and women. This culture must undoubtedly be based on merit and performance objectives, banishing elements that were important in the past, such as ‘being present’.

Fortunately, technology plays an essential role and enables us to work flexibly. A company’s culture must be inclusive and, as well as just being in place, it must also be obvious, conveyed and visualised so that it filters down through all layers of the organisation. At the same time, we women need to empower ourselves, lose our fear and clearly state what we want. We can’t just sit back and pretend that promotions happen by themselves.

In your opinion, what does an inclusive business culture look like?

An inclusive culture is easily recognisable because it allows all professionals in an organisation to develop freely; it values their differences and each individual’s contribution to a project. Today’s inclusive cultures do not seek a group of identical individuals, rather they believe in the value of the whole and in difference, creating business structures and promotion policies that are committed to accommodating all points of view.

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