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For ACCA and the ESRC, we want to explore the link between diversity and innovation and in particular the benefits to organisations in encouraging diversity to achieve business benefits
—Ewan Willars, director of policy, ACCA

First ACCA and ESRC panel event takes place in Delhi

The low representation of women in the boardroom, growing income inequality, and the retention of talent have all been prominent in recent news headlines. To better understand the challenges of workplace diversity, expert opinion and research findings will form the content of three global Expert Panels – all centred on the theme of Diversity - launched today by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The Expert Panels are roundtables bringing together key thinkers to debate and develop new thinking on managing diversity in businesses.

The first Panel event takes place in Delhi, India, on 17 November, and will be chaired by Professor Paul Boyle, chief executive of the ESRC. Further roundtable events will take place in Shanghai on 9 December and London on 17 January 2012. The Panel chair is Alison Maitland, a journalist, author and expert on leadership, diversity, and the changing world of work.

To support wider debate a website has also been launched, including an opinion piece by Ms Maitland called Harnessing diversity for global business performance. 

Ewan Willars, director of policy at ACCA, says: 'The ultimate aim with these roundtables is to influence policy and to get a debate going. Diversity means different things to different people in different places. But for ACCA and the ESRC we want to explore the link between diversity and innovation and in particular the benefits to organisations in encouraging diversity to achieve business benefits. We specifically don't want to focus on diversity being an ethical or moral issue but rather want to point to the potential benefits to business of harnessing a range of perspectives.'

Astrid Wissenburg, director of partnerships and communications from the ESRC, says: 'These unique Expert Panels provide an opportunity for international debate around the complex challenges of diversity for global business. It is clear that social science has an important role in understanding these challenges and the role of diversity in developing innovation. By bringing together a global group of experts in these locations, I am confident we will ensure a better appreciation of the relationships between diversity and innovation from both business and research perspectives.'   

Ms Maitland says: 'We have published an online discussion paper about diversity, introducing the roundtables with some short examples of how diversity, or the lack of it, affects five pillars of sustainable business growth – those of new talent, new business, innovation, effective organisation structures and leadership capabilities.'

As well as considering these five pillars of sustainable business growth, the Delhi Expert Panels will debate how India’s growing economy and society can retain talent and how it can channel high aspirations for innovation and entrepreneurialism in the country and beyond.

The Panel of Experts in Delhi are:

  • Mr Lalit Jain, Senior Vice President & Company Secretary, Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd
  • Mr Ashish  Makhija, Corporate Consultant and Lawyer
  • Mr Manoj Raut, CEO, Institute of Directors
  • Ms  Saundarya Rajesh, CEO of NGO FlexiCareers
  • Mrs Vandana Saxena Poria OBE, CEO, Get Through Guides
  • Mr Charlie Walker, Director of Programmes, British Council
  • Mr Ravi Chaudhry, founder Chairman of CeNext Consulting and Investment Pvt Ltd and author of Quest for Exceptional Leadership: Mirage to Reality
  • Mr Andrew Jackson, British High Commission
  • Mr D Shyam Babu, Advisor, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI)
  • Mrs Mohini Daljeet Singh, Head, Max India Foundation


A report about all three roundtable discussions will be published in March 2012. 

All details about the Panels can be found on its website, which can be accessed from the 'Related Links' section (left of this press release) 

Aims of the Panel

Through the Expert Panels we aim to provide a platform - both regional and international - that will extend the impact of high quality research and shape future activity in a high-level and independent debate. The Expert Panels will also:

  • Influence policy development and formation - in the UK and with international partners
  • Stimulate innovation and change - in business, policy and in research
  • Develop international co-operation and collaboration between business and academia
  • Utilise the information and knowledge from the meetings to develop new research funding areas
  • Highlight challenges facing businesses and researchers, the potential solutions, as well as key bodies that can influence these
  • Develop new partnerships.