Time to Take a Look at Diversity in Your Enterprise
Stephen Covey once said, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Growth company CEOs should pay attention to this maxim. Mid-February is a perfect time to reflect on where your company stands in this regard, paying special attention to diversity within your board and among your senior executives and partners.
Let’s be clear on what is meant by diversity. Diversity is not a quota system dictating how many women and minorities must be part of your company. Diversity is an imperative – deeply felt from the top of the organization down to front line employees - that drives you to seek out a wide variety of experiences and perspectives to mirror your organization’s market, workforce and social and regulatory environment. Diversity is not just for big companies that are in the public eye, are subject to public pressure and can afford to have staff who specialize in this issue. Diversity is for every leader who recognizes that the way to the right answer is through unanticipated byways that new thinking points you to.
Diversity is critical to an organization’s ability to innovate and adapt in a fast-changing environment—no less than biodiversity is essential for a healthy planet. Diversity enhances innovation and that, in turn breeds business success. The issue is that most businesses are not diverse in the boardroom or the C-suite.
In the most visionary and successful organizations we talk with, diversity includes not only race and gender, but age, political, religious and sexual preferences. Why? Therein lies the opportunity- building business success --through wider perspective and a willingness to challenge the familiar ways of doing things. For your growth company, leveraging diversity enables you to examine market opportunities through multiple lenses, overcoming blind spots, seeing things differently from your competitors and improving performance. Research by McKinsey found that companies ranking in the top quartile of executive-board diversity, ROEs were 53 percent higher, on average, than they were for those in the bottom quartile. 53%!
So, this month we recommend you take an honest look at your leadership team, your board, and your partners. Are they a homogeneous group—in background, outlook and aspiration? Do they generally think alike, creating easy consensus that doesn’t reflect the challenges of a fast-changing marketplace? Most likely they are. It's beneficial to have a team that shares core values, like a passion for their chosen field. But if maximizing growth is your objective, it’s vital that you also pay close attention to diversity.
How can you kick-start change? We believe that creation of an Advisory Board can be an effective way to get going. Simply identify a list of business and community leaders with a conscious eye toward diversity - by gender, by ethnicity, by skillset, by industry, and so on. Then, it's a matter of executing on a plan to recruit and operate a group to give your growth company a strategic and competitive advantage through the stronger fabric of diversity. See us on LinkedIn to learn more.
Tony Cord, Mark Rosenman and Susan Kearney are Partners at Newport Board Group, a national expert network of executives, board members and senior leaders advising emerging growth and middle market organizations.
About the Experts
Tony Cord brings to Newport an accomplished background as a practice leader, growth driver, board member and advisor to mid-market, emerging growth and PE sponsors. He leads Newport's Mid-Atlantic Practice. Tony Cord is also responsible to drive the Professional Services Alliances thrust of Newport's growth plan.
Email him at: Tony.Cord@NewportBoardGroup.com
Mark Rosenman has deep experience developing processes, systems and content to create value from intellectual capital.
He is responsible to ensure that, in serving clients, all Newport partners can deploy the experience and expertise of their Newport peers as well as their own.
Email him at: Mark.Rosenman@NewportBoardGroup.com
Tony Cord and Mark Rosenman contributed to this article.
Susan is a multidimensional senior operating executive who has generated impressive results across the technology, education, B2B, B2C and social sectors in organizations ranging from start-ups to well established entities.Her approach focuses on engaging stakeholders and building consensus to develop and deploy aggressive sales and marketing strategies, customer retention initiatives and digital solutions.
Email her at: Susan.Kearney@NewportBoardGroup.com