Hank Paulson, the former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, has said that every leader that he’s worked with has had significant blind spots – and he’s worked with a lot of important leaders in the financial world. These leaders know they have strengths and weaknesses. What they do is surround themselves with people who complement their strengths and make up for their weaknesses.
Embracing Deliberate DiversityTM means learning to communicate in a diverse environment. This can be a challenge for employees, because communication in Deliberate DiversityTM often differs from what they’re used to. The key is to be clear about what Deliberate DiversityTM is and how it works.
It’s easy to take the “affirmative action approach” to representation. That’s when a company says “We’ve got 100 thousand employees, but only 2 percent of them are women. We have to go and artificially raise that number to 17 percent.” But this approach to representation is only surface-level. It doesn’t take into account the real value of representation: diversity of perspective.
When A.G. Lafley became CEO of Procter & Gamble in 2000, the company had a commercial success rate of 15 to 20 percent. Less than a decade later, P&G’s success rate was up to 50 to 60 percent. The company has only gotten stronger since then.
There’s no mystery to P&G’s rapid growth and continuing success – it all comes down to the diversity management. Lafley’s first decision was to focus on radical innovation. He found that P&G was playing it safe. The company was sticking to what it knew.
Look at the lineup at the Federal Reserve Bank in 2008: Ben Bernanke, Donald Kohn, Randall Kroszner, and a few others. What do these people all have in common? They’re all bankers and economists. They all see the world in essentially the same way.
When financiers created dangerous housing bubbles in the years leading up to the 2008 crisis, the Fed failed to act. That’s because the members of the Fed were thinking just like the financiers were.