Status quo won’t put you ahead of the competition

Tanya Howe, sales director, Ricoh Graphic Communications
Monday, November 22, 2021

Different voices and different perspectives are helping Ricoh Graphic Communications in the UK to challenge itself and change the way it operates. Sales director Tanya Howe highlights how diversity across the business can also help UK printers to evolve.

A focus on diversity brings many benefits
A focus on diversity brings many benefits

Attracting fresh talent and adopting fresh thinking are two themes that have been the Achilles heels of the print industry for many years.

But combatting the status quo and driving change is more important now than it has ever been, with print businesses across the UK struggling to gain competitive advantage amidst wide-ranging structural and commercial challenges. Modernisation – a journey of digital transformation – is high on the agenda, and the reason is that, fundamentally, printers’ customers have also changed.

Under the influences of evolving consumer trends, ecommerce, mobile, COVID, and much more besides, the paradigms around print supply have shifted significantly. Quite simply, if printers cannot deliver solutions to these paradigm shifts, their customers will find a supplier that can.

This kind of change is a huge challenge, and if they have not already done so, print business owners must assess whether they are equipped to address such a momentous upheaval with the skills and experiences of their existing human resources.

Many have concluded that they are not, and that attracting new skills and new ideas is now an urgent requirement to ensure they can claim or retain a competitive advantage. Ricoh itself has been through this exact process. It identified that building a more diverse talent pool was a fundamental business imperative, both for its own approach to the many markets it operates in, and for the benefit of its customers, who can benefit by extension from Ricoh’s own injection of fresh thought. Data proves that diversity drives innovation by up to 20%1 and we pride ourselves on delivering high levels of innovation to our clients and their businesses.

Destination change
As a female sales director in the print industry, readdressing the balance of the leadership team under Simon Isaacs I’d like to think I bring a different perspective to the table. In fact, half of the Ricoh Graphics Com leadership team is now female, including our strategy & services development manager, Samantha Precious, and our services marketing development manager, Beata Ulman.

Listen to Ricoh’s Anything in Print podcast with the BPIF on talent and diversity in print

This is important for Ricoh because we are already finding and developing new and effective ways of working with our customers that utilise this new mix of skills, outlook and experience. This is relevant for our customers in the print industry because the diversity that we represent is a mirror of their own customers, whose backgrounds and personalities and motivations are varied. We can, therefore, help printers to interpret and understand what their customers are trying to achieve. We understand the voices of their customers because in many instances those voices match our own.

Why is it crucial now? We are seeing different types of markets emerge and even though in the past, we have served our customers well within traditional print sectors like transactional print, we now actively support very niche print service providers, in both commercial or corporate space. These different markets have a new range of clients that have different behaviours, experiences and characteristics and that in turn requires a renewed perspective and position.

Going forward, bringing diverse perspectives to bear on digital transformation within the print industry will be a key part of the way Ricoh builds and sustains client relationships, especially as we continue to develop our consultative approach through programmes such as EDGE, which was launched this year. EDGE delivers a three-stage process of:

  • Discovery - where clients assess the barriers to production efficiency, with a focus on people, processes and production systems)
  • Transformation - when new or improved structures, roles and responsibilities are created to build on the discovery findings
  • Finally, Sustainability - which promotes embedding that transformation as a culture and not a one-off review

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Performance boost
But beyond that, a focus on diversity brings many additional benefits to any employer, and a wealth of research exists to back this up. McKinsey, for example, has shown that gender, ethnic and cultural diversity on leadership teams can improve financial performance1. It also makes your company more attractive as a prospective employer to Millennials and those in Generation Z if they see this diversity already exists in your workforce2. Beyond that diversity is directly linked to profitability2 and is lively to increase it by 25%. It is down to richer and deeper conversations which lead to mutually benefiting strategies, building relationships that last, lower customer churn and sustainable business operations.

Our own experience at Ricoh only strengthens our commitment to diversity. We have found our organisation to be more willing to challenge the way things have always been done. We believe that this is giving us a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and with humility in our hearts, we think that print businesses that go on the same journey to build a more diverse workforce will also enjoy that advantage. Fresh talent and fresh ideas don’t just arrive on the doorstep though: you must go out of your way to attract it and nurture it, and therein lies the challenge for print.

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