Lehman Brothers is a global investment bank with a history going back to the US in the 1840s. The company employs more than 20,000 people worldwide of which 4,100 work across Europe. The company is structured into four main businesses: equities, fixed income, investment banking and investment management.
Both Joseph Gregory - president and chief operating officer based in New York - and Jeremy Isaacs - chief executive, Europe and Asia - began championing diversity at Lehman Brothers at the start of this millennium. Isaacs approached the head of HR to identify a practical way forward on this agenda for Europe and to ensure the work matched US initiatives.
They concluded that diversity required a full-time post and Fleur Bothwick was appointed as European director of diversity in September 2003.
A series of focus groups was run by Helen Turnbull, a consultant with Florida-based company Human Facets. These focus groups looked at diversity from the perspectives of gender, ethnicity, continental Europeans, expatriate staff, working parents and white men. In each case, members of the focus groups were asked to identify the most important issues affecting their work at Lehman Brothers and areas of contention which needed to be addressed.
"Conducting the research gave us a clear picture of employees' views," says Bothwick. "The fact that we used a third party gave credibility and structure to the findings. The final report provided the catalyst for going further."
Rejecting the idea of setting up a number of network groups around the company, the issue was addressed as a leadership matter. The head of each company division was then asked to define diversity for their area of responsibility, to identify specific challenges with regard to the diversity agenda, and to draw up a business plan to move forward over the next 12 to 18 months. This agenda was discussed alongside the division's overall business plan, ensuring the initiative was put in the mainstream from the outset.
A European diversity steering committee was established and it continues to meet once a month to discuss progress and deal with issues wherever they arise in the company. The committee is made up of two or three representatives from each division, and they feed into working groups in each division. In this way, Lehman Brothers has created an infrast