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CEO of KPMG: “If you are not taking this topic seriously, the reputation and the performance of the company will be damaged”

2024-03-21 13:52:00

The Hungarian Business Leaders Forum and Corvinus University of Budapest held a joint panel discussion about diversity, equality, and well-being in the workplace.

Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem

“Diversity is the best decision for companies. It has business benefits, enhances innovation, creativity, and reputation. Diverse groups make better decisions. Diversity makes the company more attractive for young people. The real question is: why aren’t all companies diverse?”, asked Beáta Nagy, professor of Corvinus University at the event with prestigious business leaders and researchers on the 5th of March. Her research findings align with managers’ experiences. Rezső Rózsai, the CEO of KPMG in Hungary claimed during the panel discussion: “If you are not taking this topic seriously, the reputation and the performance of the company will be damaged”.  

 

Inclusion at the workplace is a two-way street 

 

However, it is not enough to promote inclusion and diversity at the workplace, it should also become an integral part of the organizational culture. “We have all the tools and policies that are fostering diversity and inclusion, but they would not be meaningful if our values and culture wouldn’t support them”, said Mónika Pais, CEO of Diageo Budapest. She emphasized the responsibility leaders should embrace to set an example in day-to-day communication. “People should feel that their contribution is valued” – this is the characteristic of a safe environment in which equality and diversity are lived everyday experiences.  

However, these organizational and managerial efforts only create one lane of a two-way street. Employees can usually decide how much they want to embrace the opportunities, for example the training and development programs, that the companies provide to foster dialogue. “For example, we have a lot of initiatives to develop the right level of sensitivity towards colleagues with disabilities, but you should have listening ears and an open mind to really learn from them”, said Julianna Kulczycki, Head of GBS Customer Operations Mobility & Convenience EU and Head of country Hungary at bp. 

  

The way to becoming successful female leaders 

 

Julianna Kulczycki learned along the way that changing perspectives and letting go of biases mean a crucial step towards becoming successful in an international business environment. She was 34 years old when she took over an organization in Malaysia. To find common ground with the stakeholders, she had to learn to take the operational approach to resolve conflicts with mostly traditional, older men.  

Mónika Pais had similar experiences 10 years ago when she regularly had to deliver presentations in the London headquarters of the company she was working at. “I was sitting in a room full of native English speaker men. I had my confidence and my professional knowledge, but I was still contemplating whether I am good enough”. Both women could let go of their expectations and fears when they discovered that biases hindered them. Today, they are grateful to all those men who supported them along the way of becoming successful female leaders.  

 

The rabbit, the dog and the giraffe sitting behind the fence 

 

“The people who are in an easier situation should support others and create an environment in which their self-confidence can grow”, said Rezső Rózsai after listening to the women’s stories. He also introduced the concept of equity into the conversation and stressed that it does not mean same rules for everyone. “Imagine that the giraffe, the dog, and the rabbit watch a football game from behind a high fence. If you give them the same chair, it does not mean equal opportunity. Maybe the dog will be comfortable, but the giraffe doesn’t need one to see the game and the rabbit won’t see anything anyways”.  

The question naturally arises whether quotas provide a suitable solution – just like a member of the audience, a student of Corvinus University asked. “Nobody likes quotas, but we like what they bring”, said Beáta Nagy. As long as they provoke action and companies use them to monitor progress, not just tick the box of equality, they are a useful tool. The values at the workplace are more important because everyone takes them home and thus, they shape society. “In this regard, you cannot separate work and private life, the values spill over from one place to the other”, the professor of sociology added. 

 

Taking the responsibility while not blaming others 

This is also the case when it comes to the stigmatization of mental health issues which is a relevant issue in Hungary today. According to the OECD dataset on well-being, Hungary has very poor data on life satisfaction and the number of mental health problems are increasing among young people. However, mental health is a deciding factor when it comes to a successful career. “I truly believe that we are at our best when we enjoy what we do at the workplace”, said Mónika Pais. Her company provides coaching, mentoring, a 24-hour hotline, and many other opportunities. They approach well-being on a social, mental, physical, and financial perspective to support employees.  

The participants of the discussion pointed out that it is everyone’s responsibility to take well-being seriously and seek out help if needed.      

Written by Tünde Taxner

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GEN.:2024.04.14. - 01:41:52