Meet Carole Harvey, IoD Ambassador for Diversity
Carole has spent 30+ years in business, mostly on all-male leadership teams and boards at Boots, Halfords and Staffline Group plc. Those boardrooms weren’t always welcoming environments for anyone ‘different’, yet we need ‘different’ to help broaden our perspectives, to develop valuable products and services for our customers and to help us understand the needs of our workforce. Carole says: “Diverse boardrooms are good for business. McKinsey recently concluded that there was £150billion of products and services that could be
developed to better meet the needs of women and minorities. I’ve developed several in my own career, including the award-winning ‘We Fit’ service at Halfords – the need for which simply didn’t occur to my car-enthusiast male colleagues.
“As an ambassador for Diversity for the IoD I can help directors understand the financial case for diversity.”
Q: How long have you been involved with the IoD?
About 12 years
Q: Can you tell us a little about your career to date?
Ridiculously varied, so began my career in finance in the Motor Industry and qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant at a Wines & Spirits business but since then have headed up Marketing Insight for Boots, Operations for Boots Dentalcare and Buying for Halfords. From there I founded an award winning consumer products company then returned to finance as Finance Director of Staffline Group an AIM listed staffing business. I’m finally bringing all that experience together as a business mentor and coach with Vistage, a Global peer-advisory organisation alongside my role in another start-up, TechSilver, bringing the benefits of technology to the older generation and I’m a trustee at The University of Nottingham Student Union.
Q: What do you hope to achieve as an IoD Ambassador?
I’ve worked on Boards over the last 10-15 years comprised of mainly white men and I think I can help them understand the benefits and business case for a more diverse Board. You wouldn’t pick a football team from half the squad, so why would you pick a board from half the talent? Within organisations HR teams are doing great work to develop talent and raise aspirations but women or minorities look at Boards and think ‘they’re not like me and wouldn’t welcome someone like me’. Assumptions need to be challenged on both sides to improve diversity in recruitment and business performance and I think I can play a role here.
Q: If you could give your 21 year old self some advice what would it be?
This was the hardest question to answer because I think you make the best decisions you can, with what you know at the time, so I don’t have any regrets. I think I would have benefited from role models or mentors as a young person starting my career, so I make sure I help others in that way when I can and the only advice I would give is probably to trust my instincts a little more as well as my head.
Q: What keeps you busy outside of work?
I’m a keen tennis player, I love the cinema and theatre and I make sure I take time off to travel and see the world. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends, eating out and taking long walks in the wonderful countryside in Derbyshire and my home county Yorkshire.
Q: Are there any business related or policy issues that keep you awake at night?
I’m frustrated at the education policy. A good education is the route to social mobility and economic prosperity, there are no downsides! We don’t seem to be clear on what education is for and so can’t design or deliver it. My other beef is around infrastructure, it’s simple, Government needs to invest more in the kinds of infrastructure projects that businesses can’t fund to unlock brownfield sites or major transport initiatives. A bit more money outside the South East would also help, the stats for investment outside the South East are shameful.
Q: Why do you think business leaders should join the IoD?
It’s a cliché but it’s true – It can be very lonely at the top, so it’s important to find resources, ideas and support for the decisions you have to make as a business leader. The information services and helplines are brilliant if you have queries, the training is targeted at SME’s so is very practical and relevant and there’s a community of business leaders locally you can call on at events or masterminding sessions.