Defining Diversity in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street


New York Times | November 4, 2015

The New York Times article, "Defining Diversity in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street," quotes Russell Reynolds Associates' Art Hopkins and Tuck Rickards about what defines a diverse work force. The article is excerpted below.

While myriad studies show that complex problems are solved better by diverse groups, the trickiest part may not be hiring a diverse work force but doing so in a meaningful way. This entails thinking about how inclusive a company is and whether it has a work environment that allows employees to rise through the ranks based on their abilities and skills.

“If you think about inclusiveness in the organization, do we have an organization that is a frictionless meritocracy of talent?” said Art Hopkins, an executive director in the technology officers practice at Russell Reynolds Associates in Atlanta. “Or are there highly talented people who aren’t able to excel?”

Consumer companies are often singled out as being better than other industries at cracking the code of diversity and inclusiveness. This is a function of the customer base, which — if you’re Coca-Cola, Nike or Procter & Gamble — is the entire world.

“They’re close to the consumer and they have to be sensitive to it,” Mr. Hopkins said. “They want to ensure that they’re not carrying forward staid ideas about lack of inclusion.”

But there is also a sound business reason. “Some say, ‘We live or die on the opinions of our customers — we will course-correct on what we hear from them,’ ” he added.


Where change could come more slowly is at the board level. Historically executives have ascended to boards after full careers to assume the role of august figures overseeing a company and its long-term survival. But today’s companies want younger leaders more attuned to younger consumers and trends.

“Today, I don’t care what sector you’re in, boards are responsible for governance, but it’s in a more complex disruptive world,” said Tuck Rickards, the leader of the digital transformation group at Russell Reynolds. “It could be cybersecurity or things related to globalization or business model disruption.”

To read the full article, click here.

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Defining Diversity in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street