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Gender parity

The world at work in the 21st century (and beyond)

Perhaps the greatest impact of technology has been its success in enabling people to see, understand and communicate with more people, driving a deeper understanding of our world and the people in it.

This has resulted in major changes in the working environment and contributed to a fundamental shift in corporate culture. Three examples are the growing importance of diversity, of corporate values and of cooperation between businesses.

Any organisation with any ambitions for success in the 21st century needs to ensure that its staff is as diverse as the people it serves. That means ensuring there is a real cultural mix within the company and a commitment at the highest levels to ensure this is reflected in corporate strategy.

One of the big risks facing organisations today is failure to represent the world in all its diversity in the workforce. A global organisation will deal with an enormous diversity of individuals as it conducts its business around the world. That means the organisation needs to reflect that diversity too.

I personally spend a lot of time meeting our customers and discussing both their current requirements and their expectations for the future. My colleagues are doing the same thing, around the world and around the clock. We need to understand them as comprehensively as possible, and have a clear view of who their customers are, so we can properly seek to work with them.

Companies who have proactively built and consistently fostered a truly diverse workforce often financially outperform their peers.

It makes us a better, smarter organisation, through making Thomson Reuters a more accurate reflection of the society we inhabit. It also reduces the risk of groupthink, which is one of the worst contributors to corporate inertia (if all of our staff come from similar backgrounds, we lose the opportunity to see fresh perspectives).

All of this can bring real value to the decision-making process in the organisation, which can translate into better bottom-line results. Enshrining diversity and inclusion in corporate strategy is becoming a business imperative. Investors are noting a clear correlation between corporate success and a truly diverse culture: Companies who have proactively built and consistently fostered a truly diverse workforce often financially outperform their peers.

We recently launched the Thomson Reuters Diversity & Inclusion Index to help our customers capture this indicator of likely corporate success and use it to inform their investment decisions. The research on which it is based digs deep into the practices, policies and performance of over 5,000 global companies.

It evaluates companies based on 24 specific attributes of corporate culture, based on the four pillars that define the diverse and inclusive workplace: diversity, inclusion, people development and news controversies.

We are also of course holding ourselves accountable, ensuring Thomson Reuters continues to appear on the index as well.

We hope this will encourage a dialogue with clients and colleagues to help track how successful we are in accomplishing our goals. We’re holding ourselves accountable too, to ensure our own continued improvement.

So investor interests are a major influence on this greater emphasis on corporate values. But there is self-interest too. A company that cares about doing the right thing attracts people who care too – people who are more likely to be committed and conscientious if they view the company they work for as an extension of their own personal values.

Much is made of the millennial workforce and its power in the global talent market. The best and smartest young employees are no longer content simply to practice their skills at work – they want it to represent their own values as well.

This puts a renewed focus on a company’s mission statement, its vision and its values. It makes it more scrupulous in its business decisions and makes it more accountable to customers, investors and staff.

These emphases on diversity and corporate values are not trends or fads – they are here to stay, and will continue to grow in importance for the businesses of the future.

The question facing business leaders today is therefore whether they embrace this change or run the risk of failing their investors, their staff and ultimately their customers.

The opportunities and the rewards are great. Empowered by a diverse and dynamic workforce and driven by strong values, the enterprise of the future may one day reach the stars.


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