Colt CEO Keri Gilder champions diversity as a strategic imperative

Colt CEO Keri Gilder champions diversity as a strategic imperative

 January 26, 2023

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Colt Technology Services Chief Executive Officer and Chair of TM Forum’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, Keri Gilder, addressed the Ecovadis Annual Sustain Conference to state that telecoms companies could be as much as 20 per cent more innovative and 35 per cent more profitable if they have coherent diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) strategies in place from top level management down. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion as strategic imperatives 

The CEO used the data to demonstrate that a focus on DE&I is a strategic imperative.

As a CEO, this is something that Keri has directly proven. “Every single time I’ve gone into a management role, and I’ve made sure that it is at minimum 50%-50% gender diverse, my performance has outgrown any other group’s performance within the area that I’m serving,” said the Colt Technology Services CEO.

At Colt Technology Services, DE&I policy is actively applied in areas such as a transitioning at work policy for LGBT+ employees, a domestic abuse policy, and required annual unconscious bias training for all staff.

But progress remains to be made across the industry as a whole. The CEO says that one survey found that of 31 top telecoms companies, only five had female CEOs, Keri being one of them. Of those companies, out of 330 top managers only 60 were female, and 20 of those 60 were in HR. 

Centering DE&I and advocacy 

There aren’t enough women in research and development (R&D), and there aren’t enough women in profit and loss (P&L) suggested the CEO – the positions where decision-making is made within companies. If more women are working in those positions better decisions can be made because the diversity of thought is there, suggests the CEO, and group think just doesn’t tend to happen when environments are more diverse.

The CEO suggests the average age of workers in the telecoms industry is 44, meaning that 25 per cent of the work force will be retiring in 2026. Pair that with the fact that 80 per cent of the time, millennials decide on a place to work based upon how inclusive that place to work is, actively centering DE&I and advocacy in telecoms strategy is vital. There may be 83 per cent better engagement if these aspects are put at the center of strategy.

So, what practical and workable things can be done to promote DE&I? The CEO has been working with TM Forum to build an inclusivity and diversity index. The index has five levels of diversity, and then five questions based on employee sentiment. They add up to a simple and actionable score that can be used to provide a benchmark across the industry. Once the scores have been gathered and validated, pain points can be categorized and can form the basis for actionable interventions.

Driving meaningful change

Monitoring through this index alongside profitability and churn, on a monthly and quarterly basis, is one actionable way to start driving real change in the industry.

“Right now, there are no universal and intersectional metrics that help us understand how we are progressing” adds Vicky Sleight, VP of Human Factor and D&I at TM Forum. “While C-level executives recognize the importance of DE&I, all too often execution is left with the Chief Human Resource Officer. Only seven organizations in the top 100 global benchmarks are from telecoms, according to both Refinitiv Top 100 D&I list and the FT's Top 100.”

“Driving meaningful change, which we’re passionate about, not only requires leadership definition and determination, but also evidence and metrics,” explains Vicky.

“Without those science-based and metric-based targets, we won’t get anywhere because we don’t actually know where we are today. So, we’re looking to create an actual industry standard in which we’re not just measuring diversity, but we’re also measuring inclusion and human sentiment of the employees to understand if a company has an inclusive culture. This means a lot to TM Forum, as we want to create an industry standard, so we can understand where we are now and help companies grow and progress on their D&I journey.”

Colt Technology Services champions diversity in the workplace 

Colt Technology Services knows a truly inclusive environment can only be built with the help of everybody within it.

The company invests in training its people - addressing unconscious biases, and empowering them to create a culture of care and belonging.

Work for this inclusive employer. Search their latest jobs


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