Changing times call for a new direction in business

A study into leadership and management challenges in the changing economy, commissioned by the DTI and DfEE, found that organisations which embrace diversity are gaining a competitive advantage.

Appointing women and people from ethnic minorities to leadership positions in companies is essential to the success of the British economy the study found.

The findings will be used by the Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership – created in February – to draw up a management development strategy for the UK.

Chairman of Hi-fi retailer Richer Sounds Julian Richer, who led the steering group, said changes in technology, ways of working, and employee and customer expectations mean managers need to change too.

“Directive, hierarchical and control-based approaches seem increasingly irrelevant in an environment in which diversity, consensus, openness and creativity are central to success,” he said of the research by the Management and Enterprise National Training Organisation.

Mark Hastings, head of policy at the Institute of Management and a member of the steering committee, said businesses that embrace diversity are feeling the benefits on the bottom line. Those companies, identified by the study, will be used as examples of best practice to spread the message to others.

“Organisations that reflect the market they are speaking to are good at selling products and services to that market,” he said.

“Organisations dominated by middle-class, white, male leaders are successful at selling products to white middle-class men, but organisations cannot compete by only reaching small markets of one particular group.”

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