JKR Investment Group: Investors must take a global approach to diversity
Tetiana Vozniuk (pictured, below), Investment Manager in JKR Investment Group, gives her view on why investors must step up and take more of a global approach towards diversity, rather than inciting a ‘tug of war’ between genders.
It seems as if the gender equality issue has been on top in media and society for the past couple of years. And when you look at stats it becomes clear why the topic is so hot. Recent report stated that only 23% of companies have female directors, while just 15% of CEOs of tech entertainment brands are women. Regarding the wage gap, UK pre-COVID statistics estimated the equivalent averages and median to be 16% and 21% respectively.
While many companies are addressing the issue of diversity, there are still barriers like mentality, market peculiarities, regulations and government law etc., that slow down the process. So instead of pushing forward and dealing with more resistance (say hi to the laws of physics), we need to make the step up and take a more global look at diversity.
One of the keys to that may be in encouraging individualism and the value each person brings to the company, rather than limiting our awareness to gender diversity only. For instance, at JKR we do not rely on average salaries, we are ready to pay the amount one requires if they bring the corresponding skills and insight to the business. We believe that it is about partnering with the right people irrespectively of gender, that take the company to the next level.
Based on that principle, we build appropriate relationships with all genders. We hire and promote both men and women to C-level positions, not because of their gender, but because of their merits with respective remuneration.
This approach also brings healthy diversity and equality to our portfolio companies: for instance, BETER, a fast-paced content provider, has a healthy gender balance of C-level personnel led by industry seasoned CEO, Gal Ehrlich. The same works for our newly launched BETER Live led by industry expert Anna Vikmane.
We grow or acquire companies for a partnership not focusing on the age, race, gender or religious background of the founders/entrepreneurs, we bet on personality and whether one can deliver superior results.
The great example of this is the CEO of bet365, Denise Coates. When nobody even thought of digitalising the business, she took a loan and transformed her father’s company to make it an online operator. Today, Coates is known as the most influential woman in the UK market with a net worth of $12.2 billion. These results were achieved by the person, not the representative of the gender, nationality, religious beliefs etc.
The effective way to encourage diversity within a company is to focus on one’s personal values, merits, and ambitions as in these assets you may spot common for your company to rocket it up to the moon. Therefore, at JKR we perceive diversity as the nudge to the greater achievements and prospects that only people can bring. While building a team we follow three main principles that eliminate the gender gap that usually occurs at this stage:
- Focus on values and soft skills. It’s crucial that employees share the company’s values and the right skills to execute the idea. Studies show that sharing common values helps produce a better financial performance, customer and employee satisfaction, as well as helping your company grow faster. Shared values can also have a big impact on engagement. They lead to stronger social connections at work, which research has found to boost productivity and passion.
- Build partnership. The statement comes out from the previous point: as long as you share common values with your co-workers the partnership is set by default. At JKR, we believe that first, we build relationships, then we build companies. Several studies have proven that strong reliable relationships at work leads to more engagement and a decrease in attrition.
- Be transparent. The transparent environment enables significant benefits for the business: stronger workplace culture and values, employees feel valued, hence more engaged in work, freely share innovative ideas and are open to one another’s opinions. Overall, transparency morphs your workforce into better on-the-job performances and better work relationships.
To sum up, instead of stirring up a tug-of-war between genders we need to follow more global principles and embrace diversity, unconventional style and focus on personalities. So as soon as we start doing it, the gender inequality issue will diminish by itself.