• Stéphanie

After the indignation, let us walk the talk, now!

George Floyd’s murder reminds us that despite all the talks, our societies have not yet overcome the scourge of racism and racial injustice. Not only in the USA but also in Europe, including Switzerland.


This is why, we can only welcome individuals' and companies' indignations against racism that are spreading across all the social networks.


"FOR ONCE DON'T DO IT & DON'T TURN YOUR BACK ... STOP BEEING SILENT (Nike)"

Verbal indignation is a step but it is not enough; To change the situation, concrete actions are needed at the level of each individual, but also at corporates' level and here begins our responsibility to contribute to the change.

Indeed - as executives, board member, C-suite, founder - we have a major role to play in changing mentalities, creating new models to identify with – black CEOs - and finally in taking decisions to hire blacks and other minorities.

Easier said than done. Yes, but if we really want to change, then we have no other choice but to reflect on what we can do, to confront the cultural and systemic forces that sustain racism and discrimination.

I know it is not that simple to determine where and how to start.

This is why, I would like to share with you, what we have done at our very limited scale - in our consultancy boutique - to contribute to a more inclusive entrepreneurial environment.

Every and each single step counts

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 1. IDENTIFY AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM: LOOK AT YOUR DATA

First of all, let's answer some questions: how many black people are board members, VPs, C-suite in European companies and in yours? I must say that except the former Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam, I am not able to name anyone and the figures do not seem to be available contrary to other countries such as the USA (for some figures, it is here)

If I now refer to my 25 years personal experience in different companies (start-ups, multinationals, SMEs, state-owned companies) and business area, I have come across only one person at that level: Marc Minoustchine, he was acting as the CFO at RJR Nabisco in France; apart from that, nobody. 

And what about you? In your company and in your professional career have you come across black people at VP, C-suite and board positions? If not, then it is time to acknowledge there is a big problem and each and every step counts.

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2.         SET OBJECTIVES AND MEASURE THEM

Promoting and acting for equal access to work and ensure equal payroll are now part of the laws in more or less all European countries and also in Switzerland. Many companies have also established guidelines on social and environmental responsibility and usually there are some chapters related to inclusion and diversity!

Objectives are set in the RSE guidelines and reports, and now, what are the concrete results?

How many black people or ethnic minorities are at C-suite level in your firm and how many in the next 2 years would you like to reach? Are the salaries and wages the same? 

The idea is to measure the results obtained and take corrective actions when necessary to reach the objectives As a consequence, good intentions or the quality of the processes, are not enough to measure the effectiveness of the actions, only concrete results should be measured. Therein lies the change. 3.         ACT FOR CHANGE AND STAY CONSISTENT

Shortly after the start of the riots in the USA, I was talking to one of our industrial customers with over 200 employees in Switzerland. Its CEO told me that there were 6 black people or from ethnic minorities - none at the management and C-suite-. He saw the reasons of such situation in the quality of the competences and skills and not in the racial discrimination.

If this is the case, then what can be done to change that situation? Work closely with the universities and engineering schools? Competent people have studied those kind of situations and have recommended several solutions to solve them that depend on each situation. Here are they.

Among the solutions, they also mentioned training or adapting recruitment processes because we have cognitive biases and many of them might contribute to the lack of inclusion. More here. It is true that we tend to hire people like us (gender, background...) that is why training to control biases are helpful. Last but not least: performances are higher with multi-ethnic team

Beyond moral consideration, all studies show that ethnic diversity and inclusion improves business results by at least 20%. See McKinsey analysis. Some companies have already understood it and have implemented diversity and inclusion plans which are reflected into their corporate governance: composition of their board of directors and executive committee are including high level of ethnic diversity and culture. And their results also speak for themselves.  Here's a glimpse of the best in classe according to Refinitiv or B Corp and Impaakt which also measures Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through its peer to peer platform.

Stéphanie Fontugne

--------------------------- Lift each other up!

About us ? At Boostpartners, we know from experience that our cultural, gender and ethnic diversity is one of our strengths and you will notice it when you meet us. We also act by supporting local foundations that work for the integration of migrants through the creation of micro-enterprise. And we have also decided to contribute to the Impaakt crowdsourced sustainable platform to analyze the companys' achievement of their Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). We are small and we act for inclusion as each single step counts. Lift each other up!