The Prime Minister on excessive risk taking

Last week I was at a small private briefing with the Prime Minister and Lord Mandelson, amongst others, who were about to hold an urgent meeting with the CEO’s of Banks. I was happy to learn that the Government not only feels that the IMF is no longer fit for purpose but that stronger and more rigorous checks on behaviour and ethics would be needed in the future to prevent excessive risk taking. I was reminded of what I said last month: ‘’if we had more diversity would we have taken so much risk?’ I put to you that the answer is ‘no’. Women generally ask lots of questions to mitigate risk. This gendered cultural (female) norm has been seen as weakness in some corporate cultures and when women have to ‘button up’ to conform they simply leave. Look at organisations who have few women in senior positions and you will know that outdated modes of behaviour still exist and it is time for change! The question is no longer ‘should we change?’ but ‘how do we change?’

It has been interesting form our point of view to see how different companies, Banks in particular, have responded to diversity recently. Some have categorically stated that Culture Change programmes are a luxury and non-essential spend. Others, like Lloyds TSB are still fully committed to creating a more equitable workforce where women and other minority groups can thrive. This attitude has prevailed, as far as I know, for at least the past decade and the results speak for themselves. Can I also make a spurious link that Lloyds TSB have come out of the current crisis in a stronger position than almost all of the Banks? Can it be a coincidence that a more open and people oriented culture gets better results than others?

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