#IWD: 'Diversity is critical to the success and growth of any business'

08 March 2019 . International

To mark International Women’s Day today (Friday 8), we’re sharing career stories and advice from women in various roles across Bupa. Here, we speak to Mary Trometer, General Manager Bupa Global North America, and diversity and inclusion champion. She talks about how we promote an open, authentic and inclusive culture at Bupa and shares some of her personal insights on what good leadership looks like.

Why is diversity in business so important?

The importance of recruiting and developing a diverse team and business culture cannot be overstated. Diversity is critical to the success and growth of any business.

We must reflect on our culture and expect our communities to be inclusive. We must also go beyond gender and value age, race, nationality, class, life experiences, and everything else that makes us all unique individuals. We need new, diverse ideas, values, and perspectives in order to drive innovation and success. It also just makes work a lot more fun doesn’t it?

International Women’s Day was first marked in 1911 – over 100 years ago. Is this awareness day still relevant?

I think that International Women’s Day is still very important and relevant in order to recognise and acknowledge both the progress women have made to date and the opportunities for improvement. Of course it’s not possible to move forward with only half the equation – we need to do more to equalise opportunities for men, particularly in parental leave policies. Promoting and fostering such culture not only engages the other half but enables equal opportunities for everyone.

Can you tell me about a female role model who has inspired you over your career?

When I was working in a medical management company, the President of that business was a very successful sales professional and huge promoter of woman in business. She mentored her management team as well as people at all levels directly, teaching us so much about sales and customer consultative practices. This was invaluable to my realising how much fun and satisfying working with customers could be.

What advice did you receive early in your career that has stayed with you?

I received great support early in my career to learn as much about the business as possible and listen, listen, listen. That’s why my style is all about waiting to hear from everyone before making key decisions. This includes, for example, working or sitting directly in our call centres, mail rooms or claims departments. This way I get to know the folks working in the business and have the opportunity to continuously ask for their input on how to improve the business.

Communication and networking within the organisation enables sharing of best practices and the creation of exciting new things. This not only helps me do my job better but it is also critical in the development, promotion, and empowerment of our teams. 

What advice would you give to people who are considering a leadership role?

Go for it – challenge yourself to listen and understand your colleagues’ opinions and ideas, and ask for and incorporate feedback. Be humble, collaborative and generous.

What three skills do you think are essential to be a good leader?

Lead by example – be collaborative, generous, and value diversity and team work.