Case Studies

Russell Reynolds Associates

Russell Reynolds Associates is a global leader in assessment, recruitment and succession planning for CEOs, boards of directors and key roles within the C-suite. With more than 370 consultants in 45 offices around the globe, they help clients develop goals, define appropriate roles and fill leadership gaps. They work closely with both public and private organizations across all industries and regions to build boards and executive teams that can meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital, economic, environmental and political trends reshaping the business landscape.

In 2015 Russell Reynolds contracted Global Diversity Practice to deliver a three-hour conference to 50+ delegates (comprising a selection of existing personnel and new hires) with a focus on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias in the field of talent & search management.

Unconscious Bias for Executive Search Consultancy


The Open Minds conference was delivered in New York as part of a week-long training programme, and was part of a goal to move away from a transactional culture into one that is more consultative and advisory, and looks more broadly at what Russell Reynolds Associates can offer for their clients.The workshop utilised a combination of theory, reflection, activities and presentation from Farrah Qureshi, with delegates getting involved through handbooks and handouts to gather learnings and plan future actions, which included a Debiasing Checklist tailored to the executive search context. In order to further customise the workshop, familiarisation and engagement was carried out in the weeks leading up to the conference, consisting of:

  • Russell Reynolds D&I data review, establishing the level of progress and understanding the level of D&I activity within the company.
  • Conducting 1-2-1 interviews with key stakeholders and senior leaders to gauge levels of commitment, current opinions, and apparent themes and issues relating to D&I.
  • Implicitly Unconscious Bias testing – this was fed back to delegates in the conference in the form of a group analysis, as part of a ‘Holding up the Mirror’ session. Charts were shown which compared collated delegate results from Russell Reynolds Associates to expected test results. Participants were then anonymously supplied with their individual results for further reflection and feedback.


  • Raised awareness of D&I, Unconscious Bias, micro-inequities and their potential challenges relating back to the business case for Executive Search whilst promoting Inclusive Talent / Search Management
  • Aided delegates in understanding how their actions and behaviours can help to develop Talent / Search in an Inclusive manner.
  • Showed new hires the importance and commitment Russell Reynolds puts on D&I – promoting the commitment of delegates in their early days with the company and taking a step towards having a more diverse and inclusive culture.
  • Global Diversity Practice received both positive and constructive feedback from delegates.

Following the success of the conference, GDP are now working closely with Russell Reynolds Associates to take the key learnings from the conference in order to develop an Inclusive Leadership intervention for the Executive Team.

We have been using GDP for many of our Unconscious Bias training sessions for consultants from across the globe at all levels of our firm – from new hires to our Executive Leadership team.

Farrah has had a memorable impact on everyone she’s interacted with, not only because of the content knowledge she shares, but more importantly through the personal connection she’s able to make in her delivery. It’s been very powerful and impactful for the employees who have benefited from being in one of her sessions.

She is one of few people in this particular space that I have seen have such a powerful connection with people. The topics she discusses – while highly relevant – are often viewed with scepticism. Most people don’t feel they need to be trained on diversity and bias, and even if they do, it’s not something they look forward to!

Farrah has a unique style and approach to teaching these subjects that makes people instantly engage and learn. I truly feel she is making a difference – her presence and impact is undeniable.

Renee Bell – Director, Training & Development, Russell Reynolds Associates