True believers: diversity in the boardroom

by | Feb 8, 2015 | News

Karen Sadler from Cirrus comments in The Sunday Times

Many chief executives’ offices are adorned with photographs of their children’s graduations, weddings and other milestone events. They may contain other nods to their interests outside the boardroom. For example, Indra Nooyi, chief executive of PepsiCo, the world’s second-largest food and beverage company, has revealed that she keeps a statue of Ganesha, the Hindu god of auspicious beginnings, in her office.

Nooyi’s Hindu faith helps her to cope with her senior leadership role. “There are times when the stress is so incredible between office and home, trying to be a wife, mother, daughter-in-law and corporate executive,” she said in an interview. “Then you close your eyes and think about a temple…and suddenly you feel, ‘Hey, I can take on the world.’ Hinduism floats around you and makes you feel somehow invincible.”

In discussing her faith, however, Nooyi is the exception rather than the norm. Karen Sadler of the leadership development company Cirrus agreed that big businesses often regard religion as beyond the realms of polite conversation. “Just two or three years ago, I would run workshops on diversity and I would hear people say, ‘We just don’t talk about religion. It’s too high risk, too sensitive.’ ”

© The Sunday Times 2015

Click here to read the views of more business leaders in this article by Hannah Prevett in The Sunday Times.

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