Walking the Talk: Diversity and Inclusion at Pacific International

Walking the Talk: Diversity and Inclusion at Pacific International; interview with David Howells
Diversity and Inclusion
Leadership Skills
We are Pacific

Implementation of effective diversity and inclusion strategies has been on corporate agendas for years, yet real results continue to elude companies in many sectors and many countries.

Pacific International, a global retained executive search firm that helps leading companies build diverse senior-level teams that transform their performance, has made it its mission to develop a culture that promotes diversity and inclusion both internally and among its clients.

Margaret Jaouadi spoke with David Howells, Group CEO at Pacific International, to ask for his insights into the company’s approach to diversity, its inclusive culture, and his vision for the future.

MJ: David, you have a 20+ year Executive Search career under your belt. How have attitudes to diversity changed in that time?

DH: Many organisations today, both large and small, openly discuss and implement strategies to combat issues around diversity and inclusion, and people’s attitudes to it have very much changed over the years. We see this when we take on new search mandates – nowadays, support for diversity and inclusion is a must-have, not a nice-to-have requirement. This hasn’t been the case in the past.

Over the last few years, companies have been very vocal about gender parity, equal pay, and a diverse workforce. And now in the last 18 months to two years, we’re also seeing wider inclusion discussions focussing not only on gender, race, or ethnic background but on neurodiversity as well.

MJ: How has Pacific International incorporated diversity and inclusion into its corporate culture and practices?

DH: Internally, I believe that we have always promoted diversity and inclusion, certainly since my involvement in the leadership team in 2011. My personal view and the view of other directors at Pacific is we have always wanted to build a team to mirror our global customer base. We work with senior leaders of all backgrounds, walks of life, and geographic locations, so it’s very very important for us to build a team that reflects that.

If I look at our team now, we have a very strong female representation at all company levels, including at the board level.

Considering that Executive Search is not an obvious career choice for many, we have been very fortunate to attract multi-lingual people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, who all contribute to creating a better and more inclusive working environment for us all. Just like for our clients, we focus on the person’s skillset rather than their background, nationality, or their gender.

This attitude to diversity and inclusion has hugely contributed to Pacific’s success.

MJ: How has Pacific International supported the career development and advancement of its female employees?

DH: Pacific has a performance-based culture so providing a level playing field for all our employees is key. In the last two and a half years, we have doubled in size, so there are many development and advancement opportunities for everyone at Pacific. When I think about female employees, there are several examples where we have created mobility opportunities, they benefited from two UK-based female employees who relocated to our Philadelphia office where we supported their career development and subsequently promoted them.

We are also in the process of supporting another female member of the team who is interested in relocating from our US office to our European office.

Another example of female support is our robust parental leave policy implemented across all offices. This has been particularly welcomed in the US as a huge improvement in the mandated government maternity and paternal leave policy.

The enhanced policy enables our female members of the team to continue their careers and not feel that they have to leave employment when they choose to start a family. And this is not all. We also offer flexible working / reduced working hours to our female employees returning from maternity leave to help them manage family life while delivering value for us and our clients.

MJ: As an Executive Search firm, what challenges has Pacific faced in promoting diversity and inclusion, and how have they been addressed?

DH: Our internal approach to diversity directly translates into how we support clients’ strategies around closing the diversity gap within their organizations. The challenges that we face are linked to the industries and sectors we focus on. Many of them are male dominated so our researchers and sourcing teams have to work extra hard to identify and source diverse talent.

We are very proud that over 40% of our search mandates in areas like supply chain, engineering, manufacturing, and operational leadership positions closed over the last two to three years have been female leaders. These are positions not traditionally held by women so the whole team needs to be commended for their efforts.

Despite these incredible successes in building diverse senior-level leadership teams, our work in that area is far from done and we will continue to strive to deliver even better results for our clients.

MJ: What are Pacific’s plans for promoting diversity and inclusion?

DH: I believe that our company’s attitude to diversity and inclusion has hugely contributed to Pacific’s success as a trusted Talent Acquisition partner to many leading companies globally.

Continuously training our staff in better sourcing techniques, recognizing and eliminating unconscious bias from our processes, amplifying the need for and actively promoting diversity both internally and for every engagement and focusing on building an inclusive working environment for all will help us deliver even better service to our clients globally while building a sustainable business.

I believe that the best organizations have a very strong, diversity and inclusion focus and that having a diverse leadership team builds more creativity and innovative thinking and it creates the right environment for growth. I think the more diverse and inclusive a business is the more sustainable it is. And that’s certainly our plan here at Pacific International.

For a confidential chat about how Pacific International can assist you with your Talent Acquisitions and Diversity challenges, please contact David Howells or one of our Executive Search Consultants specialising in your sector.