Our better balanced business

FIDI President Ebru Demirel on the positive advances already made for equality in moving and relocation, the work still to come – and the pay-off for Affiliates who nurture diversity in their businesses

I’m pleased to see that this issue of FIDI Focus is packed with articles on the changing face of the industry. During my time in this business, I’ve seen the gender and age make-up of the players change dramatically. Today, there are many more women than when I started in moving.

Partly, this is because women are often the owners of small businesses, and there are many of these in the moving industry. But when I meet larger companies, too – either in my role at FIDI or when representing my own company – the chances that I am speaking to a woman are now much higher than they were just a few years ago.

It is not just us movers, either. I think of the relocation industry, for example. Back in 2003, I started attending some of that industry’s conferences, too, and I was amazed to see that nearly 80 per cent of the attendees were women. Can you imagine that? One report I was reading recently predicted that, within a few years, employers would face the challenge of having five generations of staffers on board (yes, five!). So yes, the gender balance is changing rapidly (I am an example of that), but the age balance is changing, too.

Some of that change is organic, reflecting larger demographic trends in many societies, as the workforce becomes more diverse. But some of it comes through law. We see this with corporate boards, for example; many countries now have laws stipulating how many women need to be on a board.

In my opinion, putting women on the board of directors just because the law says so is a myopic way to see your community, your company and your board. It would be much better to put those women on the board because they have just the right mix of experience that your company needs. Some of the top C-level execs at some of the world’s largest companies are women, and if your board is made up of men only, you might be missing out on the most qualified candidates.

There is a great base of experience right in front of us. It is not like the women and young people out there are inexperienced, and we need to give them a helping hand before they are ready. It’s not like this at all. Increasingly, they already have the experience we’re looking for, and the health – and success – of our companies depends on our ability to tap into that experience.

I encourage you to take a close look at the articles that follow in this issue, and then to take a creative look at the community that already surrounds you. It just might have something to offer that you’ve never seen in that way before, and you will wonder how you ever got along without it.