Should We Care About Diversity? (Yes, It’s a Serious Question)

This is an interesting article, by Sallie Krawcheck, (18October 2012 LinkedIn) who is the Past President of Merrill Lynch, US Trust and Smith Barney, but the comments below it are even more telling.  It is true that her assertion that “If women were fully engaged in the US economy, GDP would be 9% larger than it is today” is largely unsubstantiated by any hard facts although previous work by the UN does point to benefits for engaging a higher percentage of women in leadership roles, or at least providing them the ability for self determination.  What is interesting are the comments from a couple of the men who seem almost hostile, a little rejected and incredulous by the suggestion of increased gender diversity.  This attitude is nothing new and is one of the major obstacles yet to be overcome not only for Gender Diversity but general diversity issues.

Krawcheck acknowledges that there many important issues to discuss but says that

I have come to the conclusion that it does indeed matter. Let’s put aside personal opinions (almost impossible to do on a topic such as this) and look at just the facts:

Diversity matters for the broader issue of economic fairness, as companies led by women have lower gender-based pay disparities throughout their organizations. (Heck, companies run by men with daughters have lower gender-based pay disparities.)

Diversity matters for economic growth. If women were fully engaged in the US economy, GDP would be 9% larger than it is today. This is growth our economy could sorely use. (And, no, it’s not a zero sum game of new entrants taking others’ jobs; history shows that the economy can grow as a result of new entrants, in a virtuous circle.)

Diversity matters for US company performance and competitiveness. Study after study after study has shown that companies with diverse management teams outperform those with less diverse teams. And that diverse teams outperform even more “capable” teams. And they don’t outperform non-diverse teams by a little, but with ROE differentials of 30%+, with lower earnings volatility.

And diversity can even be a matter for the safety of our economy and financial markets. Which industry could use the lower volatility, more customer focus and the longer-term perspective that women have been shown to bring? The banks.”

Without hard facts that prove the impact of Gender on the Economy this debate still flounders,  diversity is a ‘nice to have’, any many business owners and CEO’s revert to the tried and tested methods of old fashion business, much of which has been engineered using traditional business models that often provide a barrier to women’s effective participation.  Commonsense would tell you that engaging the other 50% of the population more fully would not doubt open up a broader range of thinking.  For a start it would provide valuable business feedback from female consumers not currently present in many boardrooms.  Krawchecks comments have drawn some criticism from white males who may have taken offense at her assertion;

“And, yet, the progress of women into senior roles has stalled in broader corporate America. And, on Wall Street, an industry that was substantially white, middle-aged and male has become whiter, middle-aged-er and maler coming out of the downturn, essentially doubling down on that bet.”

I have noticed a distinct upsurge of men complaining that they have been ‘hard done by’, that they are ‘being discriminated against’ and many are turning to anti-feminist organisations and men’s own groups for support.  Whilst their complaints and comments might seem trivial in comparison to the plight of many women, they should not be dismissed.  These men are finding change difficult, they feel rejected and insulted as can be seen by the comments in the article.  They feel that they are being blamed for this inequality and can’t quite understand why, so instead they feel persecuted and brow beaten.  Part of the Gender Economy debate and the debate for Gender Diversity must provide positives for both genders.  It is a journey, and currently we are in that part of the journey that has women (and many men) highlighting the issues, so it sounds like one negative being raised after another.  We need to move to the next phase of the journey quickly by assessing potential solutions otherwise the debate will remain a discussion with different sides.  The next phase of the journey will discuss the benefits and help people to see the advantages for all.

See the full article here

References:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121018185756-174077701-should-we-care-about-diversity-yes-it-s-a-serious-question?goback=.ptf_143695135_true_*1&trk=who_to_follow-b&_mSplash=1

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2 thoughts on “Should We Care About Diversity? (Yes, It’s a Serious Question)

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