Time to ‘Lean In’?
A recurrent theme throughout the body of CCA research is a persistent gap between boardroom rhetoric on the importance of listening to the voice of the customer and the reality, which is that customers’ views are often poorly understood or ignored at board level.
The composition of the board in the broadest terms - age, gender, ethnicity etc - inevitably has an impact on the culture of the organisation and its ability to relate to the customer community.
It is an inescapable fact that across UK boards both in the private and public sector, there is a common denominator: the majority of board directors are older males. Yet, research tells us that that 93 per cent of women aged 40 to 60 make all or most of the financial decisions in UK households. Click here to read more .
Surely that warrants fresh consideration of the merits of appointing more female directors, especially those who have years of experience in customer-facing roles and who are also representative of a key customer demographic?
Lloyds Bank has taken a lead on the issue, pledging this week to ensure that 2,000 out of 5,000 senior roles will be filled by women by 2020. It was the first major UK company to set a quota of this sort but it is indicative of wider moves to encourage greater female representation at board level. Click here to read more.
Of course women do not have a monopoly on talent and I strongly believe that promotion should always be merit-based. However, there is a growing appreciation that having a more even gender balance at the top of an organisation delivers tangible benefits. Also, there is an increasingly wide talent pool of experienced women who can fill senior roles.
A body of independent research supports these views, including a US report by Catalyst which showed that organisations with a better gender balance achieve a substantially higher return on sales, equity and capital. Click here to read more.
Through CCA Excellence Awards we have observed the reservoir of talent in our sector at every level and it gives us great faith in the future. Customer contact roles have historically employed a high proportion of women and in what is a relatively young industry, women have risen to increasingly influential positions. This group, who have an innate understanding of customers, represent a valuable talent pool for boards seeking to get closer to customers.
CCA is launching two important new initiatives which have been designed to support talented future leaders across our network - both women and men. The first is the CCA Executive Round Table for Senior Women lunch which took place at the Institute of Directors this week. Invited were women from businesses including: AIG, American Express Business Travel, Serco, Nuffield Health, RBS, Carphone Warehouse, ASOS and UK Asset Resolution, and supported by Verint. It was a lively and stimulating event which we hope to repeat and expand in future.
We are also currently working with Dr John Knell on finalising the content of our new one-day CCA Customer Experience MBA. It will be a rigorous professional development programme to provide leadership opportunities to men and women and we plan to launch it in April.
We are confident that it will become the breeding ground for leaders of the future - so boardrooms of Britain, look out - the first MBA graduates of this unique will be storming the boardroom in future.