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Pushing Past Cultural Norms

Grupo Supervielle, Argentina

If you have a small pipeline of talent as you do in less diverse societies, it’s always a challenge, says Laurence Loyer, who was the first woman to join the $650 million market cap financial-services company’s board in 2011.

But I think the differential factor here is the chair sending out the signal and putting the objective on the table. If you go after great women candidates, you will find them.

As the company prepared for an IPO, it became clear to Chair Julio Patricio Supervielle that other perspectives were needed. He believed that the markets would see diversity as a plus and encouraged his recruiter to propose many female candidates. Two more women joined (one has since left). “I was thrilled,” Loyer says, “because it’s important for one woman on the board to have another. After that, gender is not assigned to one specific person. It helped me to speak up even more.” It has changed the dynamic for everyone, she says. “The groupthink risk disappears, because we are not so much a group; we are a team and everybody has to add his or her part, and we all do it in a different way.”

Getting to diversity in a more traditional culture begins at the top, Says Richard Guy Gluzman, another director: “First of all, it must be defined within the board that diversity is the priority. Once it is defined, you can do it.”

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