In this interview, we had the opportunity to speak with Callum Laing, CEO/Founder of MBH Corporation. He is here to talk to us about his work ensuring diversity in companies. Callum was born in New Zealand, grew up in United Kingdom, lived in Asia for the last 20 years, and has always been an entrepreneur. He spent the last 20 plus years in starting building and ultimately buying and selling small businesses.

“Tell us what you’ve been up to, about MBH and business that you’re in.”

“I’ve been starting lots of businesses. Some have been successful, some haven’t been as successful. A good friend of mine, Jeremy Harbour, had been buying and selling businesses for a lot longer than I have. Both of us noticed the problem that we had as small business owners. Jeremy came up with a potential solution which he bounced off me. It’s really about helping small businesses get over the class ceiling. Small businesses are penalized for being small. You can’t win big contracts when you’re a small business and procurement of big companies just won’t give you those contracts. It is tough to recruit good senior staff. You don’t have the resources. It is not a fair fight with big companies. So businesses get locked into this sort of put below the glass ceiling.

The second element we’re both very conscious of is if you’re a small business owner, you are clearly creating value for clients. You are creating value for the team and their families. And then you have a whole ecosystem of suppliers and partners and landlords. They are all extract value because owners get up and build these businesses every day. But typically, there’s only one person that doesn’t get to extract a commensurate amount of value from the business, and that’s the business owners.”

“When  we first spoke about I the work that I’m doing, you talked about your own journey with MBH in making sure there’s diversity in business. Would you like to share that with us? With how you got started and what you’ve implemented and what’s working, what’s not working, and the whole thing around it.”

“I think when you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t have the luxury to hold biases. Entrepreneurs just work with the best talent that they can get. But interestingly, I focused on very early in my career was employing more women. A secret weapon for small businesses is having this massive workforce of mums that are at home. Big companies won’t hire them because they want them in the office at eight in the morning and they want them to stay till seven in the evening. Small businesses should not need these restrictions. As long as the work gets done, you suddenly tap into this huge workforce that the big corporates are neglecting.

People only want people on the boards that have board experience. But as we create our own companies, we can bring our own people onto the board. I want at least 50 percent of women on board. And it worked incredibly well.

It makes sense to lower barriers to enter, to make concessions, to favour diverse businesses because of the knock-on effect it has. It’s not just about diversity in gender or race, it’s about the diversity of ideas. The best entrepreneurial solutions come when you can take ideas from different sectors.”

Callum Laing is offering his book for free – Agglomerate – Idea to IPO in 12 months:

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