The following article was originally posted on LinkedIn by Ian Campos, Capgemini Senior Vice President Global Insurance Services Leader. Ian has agreed to share this article through the Capgemini NA CR blog as well.
Diversity by definition comes in many forms. For Millennials, as explored by Gillian White’s article in The Atlantic magazine – “The Weakening Definition Of ‘Diversity’”– it’s less about race and gender than it is about different ‘experiences.’ Even though I am not a Millennial, I wondered if this explained my somewhat ‘ho-hum’ reaction to the push for greater gender diversity in my workplace, especially in senior leadership roles. Does my reaction have something to do with my own life ‘experiences’? What do I need to do to be more charged up and vocal about this? After all a better gender balance generates better business results as much as it is the right thing to do. This article is my attempt to make sense of it all – a personal perspective – and to contribute to the discussion on this increasingly important topic in the technology consulting business.
At the outset, I am all for the push for a larger number of women in senior leadership roles as the diversity of thought, perspective and approach to problem solving always results in better solutions and outcomes. Further, my team is well on its way to making sure we get proportionate representation of women in our senior leadership team. The part I struggle with is the somewhat rapid devolution of this into what seems to be a quota-driven, affirmative-action exercise to improve the gender balance in teams at all levels. Upon deeper reflection, I believe my personal experience and conditioning is at the core of whole-hearted embracing of the ideals, while at the same time the reason for me being uncomfortable with some of the means to achieve it.
Women, the enablers of success!
I have always been surrounded by strong, highly capable and accomplished women. I was born to a highly talented mother, who put her career on hold while she took on the burden of bringing up four children as her Army Officer husband’s career took us all across India. I was born in a maternity hospital run by my grand-aunt, who was one of the first few women to attend medical school and someone who inspired her own husband to become a doctor in his 40s! Her daughter has now made Fernandez Hospitals a leading hospital group in Hyderabad, India. Growing up, I hopelessly competed with an older sister who regularly cleaned my clock in all fields – academics, sports and extra-curricular activities. In her short 38-year life, she achieved more than most will do in a lifetime. My younger sister runs a highly successful business and still finds time to work tirelessly as Trustee of the Heal-a-Child Foundation, a charity that provides financial assistance for medical treatment for underprivileged children in India. My own wife, Annabelle, is the bed-rock of my life and the one who holds it all together for our family while my career has taken me well over a million miles and bouncing across continents. I have an aunt who, while battling stage-four cancer, has been an inspiration to all around her in how to take life by the horns and live, not simply exist. Her motto, “an attitude of gratitude” has become my credo. Many of my favorite teachers in school and mentors at work have been women whose dedication and commitment have helped shape who I have become. So, coming from this background, to me, women are the stronger sex and the enablers of success. Strong women make for strong families and brighter futures all around. This set of ‘experiences’ makes me ponder what the fuss is all about.
It’s all about fostering diversity …
In sharing this perspective with a young, talented up-and-comer woman colleague recently, I realized the most capable women I know have all grown up and thrived in an environment and culture where they were respected for who they are and nurtured into who they can be. In other words, no quarter was given nor expected by them, but every effort was made to provide the platform for personal growth and achievement. Today is not around the abilities, qualifications or proportionate representation of women at entry or mid-level positions in the workplace. It is around retaining as many of the high potential and emerging women leaders in the workforce as they end up either changing careers or dropping out of the workforce due to an increase in maternal and familial obligations. Therefore it is now increasingly important for us to create a culture which recognizes the unique challenges of women in the workplace and seeks to significantly improve the retention (or re-entry) of women in leadership roles.
While it is important to track the rates at which women are hired, promoted, retained and compensated in comparison to their male counterparts, it is equally important to avoid creating the perception that is a quota-driven eercise, when this really is tracking progress against targets for better balance. In other words, our HR and Leadership teams need to ensure the broader organization sees these targets and measures as a means to increase awareness of gender imbalances and serve as a call to corrective action where needed. However, it is more important to create and foster an environment of where women are enabled and family-friendly work policies are in place so women can contribute to the best of their abilities while juggling life’s other demands. Also, it is critical to identify, groom and fast-track top women talent until such time the gender gap at senior leadership levels is overcome.
Championing diversity at work
In writing this article, I have realized the impact many women have had on the trajectory of my life and career. It has also served as a timely reminder of how much more I can do to champion the cause of a more gender diverse and vibrant leadership team in my organization. Finally, it has underscored the need to provide a broader perspective and rationale for such initiatives to my teams so they too may overcome any apathy they may have and get behind the cause of a more balanced team at all levels. After all, it’s nothing but good business and perhaps someday my daughter may look up what we accomplished with pride.
Ian Campos is a Senior Vice President within Capgemini’s Financial Services Strategic Business Unit (FS-SBU) and is the Global Insurance Services Leader. He is responsible for the Capgemini Insurance Go-to-Market function and bringing the best of what Capgemini has to offer across Consulting, Technology and Outsourcing services for Insurance clients.
He has over 20 years of experience in marketing, finance, technology and general management consulting, particularly within the retail banking and insurance sectors. He has finely honed analytical and project management skills. These skills have been developed and refined over a number of assignments that have resulted in the definition and rapid implementation of solutions for complex problems in the areas of front-office, policy administration, multi-channel distribution, claims and billing areas within Insurance.
He is one of the few people that has worked across the entire financial services consulting continuum – from strategy development; solution design, development and implementation; and operational management. He also has a strong package-enabled transformation experience across multiple engagements utilizing Siebel, Guidewire, Pega, Salesforce and the Oracle Insurance platforms.
He has completed an MBA (1998, Monash Mt Eliza Business School, Melbourne, Australia) focused on the strategic use of technology-based marketing methods and electronic delivery systems in retail banking as part of a broader Services Marketing specialization.
He has co-authored ‘Customer Value As A Source Of Competitive Advantage In Retail Financial Services’, which was published in the International Journal of Business Studies.
Ian is a co-developer and sponsor of CapGEM (the Capgemini Guidewire Engagement Methodology) which is a Capgemini’s delivery framework for selling and delivering Guidewire engagement services.
His clients have included industry leaders: Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, CNA Insurance, Farmers, Main Street America, Zurich Japan, SafeAuto, Amerisure, Assurant Health, KeyBank, JP Morgan Chase, American Express, Telstra, Commonwealth Bank, Suncorp and AMP.