Having braved the stormy weather last Thursday evening, I found myself in the impressive board room on the top floor of Chartered Accountants House on Pearse Street. The reason? I had been asked to present on ‘Diversity & Inclusion – what it is, why it matters and what you can do to make a difference’
The audience was made up of members of the Chartered Accountant Interim Manager (‘CAIM’) network and the topic was well-received and it sparked a lengthy Q&A session afterwards. It also sparked an insight that I wanted to share.
CAIM is a network of independent, subject matter experts (all of whom are Chartered Accountants Ireland members with 20+ years of experience both domestically and internationally across all sectors) who act as interim managers (from CEO/CFO to Finance professionals) and provide a marketplace for skilled, flexible and available leaders to a broad customer base.
With an ageing demographic in Ireland as elsewhere and the need/desire for experienced professionals to continue to contribute operationally and strategically in the workplace the interest in interim management has greatly increased. This is coupled with a growing requirement for agility in business and the growing awareness of the power of experience and wisdom.
During the conversation that ensued after my presentation, it struck me as obvious although perhaps slightly overlooked that there is a direct and positive link between the world of interim management and my focus – to encourage the development of a sustainably inclusive workplace environment so as to unlock the power of an organisation’s diverse set of skills, experience and perspectives and to secure long-term success.
The role of an interim manager fits perfectly with several key elements in a successful diversity & inclusion strategy. Firstly, he or she can provide a fresh perspective and much-needed skillset to augment the existing orgnisational intellectual and psychological property. In addition, this flexible expert aligns with the needs for firms to be more agile in their thinking, selection and structure. Furthermore – and this is probably the most powerful benefit of all – the impact of integrating an experienced individual into what may be a young, dynamic organisation opens up internal coaching & mentoring and skills transfer opportunities and a cross-generational communication and collaboration which will enhance the organisational intelligence and provide the robustness that comes with a mature, outside influence.
CAIM members (as with all interim managers) – and this was well noted on the night – hold both a responsibility to understand and act as advocates for diversity & inclusion and an ability to execute its influence as they move around organisations on short and medium term assignments.
So it’s time to think more broadly about diversity and consider the positive impact that interim managers can have on the development and sustainability of a culture of inclusion. For me – now – it’s an obvious combination.