Diversity Summit Keynote Speakers Discuss the Markers of Diverse and Innovative Companies
myPGE recently had the chance to spend a few moments with Diversity Summit keynote speakers Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect and Bruce Tulgan, author of The 27 Challenges Managers Face for a discussion inspired by the summit’s theme of diversity as a driver of innovation.
myPGE: What are the markers of a company on the cutting edge of diversity and innovation?
Frans: Companies that really get diversity go beyond having to do it for compliance, market share, or even values. They do it because it drives business, innovation and success. When Lou Gerstner was hired as CEO of IBM in 1993 the company was bleeding. It was homogeneous and staid. Under his leadership the company took on an enormous diversity effort — more minorities, more women, immigrants, non-standard IT people. It made massive impact as the company became more profitable and valuable. Men and women, people of color all within the same teams — also open work spaces. This helped transform the company from a hardware provider to an integrated IT service provider. Another marker I look for is laughter. That comes from people making connections. Connections are critical: Real innovation happens when you connect diverse viewpoints and knowledge bases to create new possibilities no one would have thought of before.
Bruce: Diversity isn’t about serving free Thai food and tacos every Friday. I’d ask instead, “Are your leaders engaged? Is communication shared?” Diverse workplaces have systems in place to support people’s different strengths, values, and attitudes. Are leaders focused on results rather than the where’s and when’s of how people show up to work? If you want the best people, focus on results — engaged leaders who measure, support, and troubleshoot. Having a diverse, innovative, high-performance workforce requires that you accommodate different work styles and preferences easier. You have to give your employees room to flower. Set your Gen Y and Gen Z employees up for success and you’ve set your company up for that very same success.