Majority female board at Mercer following appointments

Mercer’s UK board now has more women than men following the appointment of Dr Siobhan Martin, UK HR director and Martine Ferland, leader of Mercer’s retirement business in Europe.

Martin and Ferland join UK CEO Fiona Dunsire and Marsh chairman of Marsh Jane Barker, who is a non-executive director and CEO of Equitas on the board which now comprises four women and three men. The consultancy says the gender profile of its board reflects its commitment to gender diversity in the workplace, which it argues improves performance.

Barker was the first of the female directors to be appointed to the Board in 2010.

Mercer’s UK Board is led by non-executive director and chairman Sir Peter Middleton, a former group chairman of Barclays, and includes president EuroPac region Simon O’Regan and UK finance director Nic Williams. The company, which employs 2,800 staff across 15 offices in the UK, says it has made staff diversity and inclusion a cornerstone of its recruitment and operating policies.

“Evidence is mounting that companies with a strong female representation at board and top management level perform better than those without. Inclusion is a commercial imperative and evidence is increasingly showing strong links between a diverse workforce and company financial performance,” says Dunsire.

Deirdre Golden, principal in Mercer’s diversity and inclusion practice, says: “Diversity in the workplace is crucial to future business success and it is moving up our clients’ agendas. It broadens organisational thinking, brings more opportunity for innovation and delivers new ways of solving client problems. To that end, it has been a focus for Mercer for many years – our HR policies are designed to ensure that talented staff can remain in the workforce as their lives progress through different stages.

“Employers understand that promotions and pay decisions need to be made on ability and performance but recognise that a level playing field is necessary. Robust and accessible HR polices are vital in creating an environment where men and women can thrive in a culture and feel valued and included.”

“If companies are going to capture the value that men and women bring to their business, then they need to develop HR policies that encourage both sexes to work flexibly and remain in the workforce. Our view is that a broader corporate cultural shift across the UK is required. Until flexible working is considered ‘the norm’ in business life and we have moved away from the stereotypical nine-to-five view of working life, then change in this area will be an amble not a sprint.”