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Difference Makers

A Leader’s Guide to Championing Diversity on Boards

By Nicky Howe and Alicia Curtis
10-minute read
Audio available
Difference Makers: A Leader’s Guide to Championing Diversity on Boards by Nicky Howe and Alicia Curtis

Difference Makers (2016) makes a compelling case for the value of diversity at the top of today’s companies. Written by two leading champions of inclusive leadership, these blinks guide readers through personal and boardroom strategies to overcome bias, foster open dialogue and spark innovation by getting more voices to the table.

  • Founders and entrepreneurs
  • Team leaders, company managers and directors
  • Anyone interested in best business practices

Nicky Howe is a CEO who specializes in helping individuals, organizations and communities reach their potential. She holds degrees in business administration and management and teaches at the School of Business at the University of Notre Dame Australia.

Alicia Curtis is one of Western Australia’s leading social and business entrepreneurs and an award-winning speaker and leadership facilitator. She holds a degree in business leadership and was named in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence List in 2014.

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Difference Makers

A Leader’s Guide to Championing Diversity on Boards

By Nicky Howe and Alicia Curtis
  • Read in 10 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 6 key ideas
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Difference Makers: A Leader’s Guide to Championing Diversity on Boards by Nicky Howe and Alicia Curtis
Synopsis

Difference Makers (2016) makes a compelling case for the value of diversity at the top of today’s companies. Written by two leading champions of inclusive leadership, these blinks guide readers through personal and boardroom strategies to overcome bias, foster open dialogue and spark innovation by getting more voices to the table.

Key idea 1 of 6

Diversity is about more than visible differences, and it’s essential to success in today’s market.

What is diversity? Lots of people answer this question by making reference to visible differences such as gender or race. That’s an okay start, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Just think of what makes you unique. Chances are, intangibles like your personality, life experiences and beliefs would rank pretty high, right? Well, that’s pretty much the point: there’s more to people than meets the eye.

That’s why the Oxford Handbook of Human Resource Management shifts the focus from obvious markers of difference to the wide variety of qualities of people within organizations. Diversity, in other words, is about recognizing that every person is a rich tapestry woven together from multiple threads. Age, education, abilities, disabilities, culture, experience, ideology, profession and, of course, race and gender – to name just a few factors – all shape who we are.

Unfortunately, we often focus on what we can see and ignore the invisible threads. That leads to the common fallacy that people who look alike have the same views. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. And that’s the foundation stone of a broader, and more accurate, understanding of diversity: what really matters is diversity of thought.

And why does it matter to companies? Well, equal representation is not only good in its own right, it’s also an essential part of doing business in today’s world. That’s because we live in an age which is increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous – call it “VUCA” for short.

The world is constantly changing. Just think of Asia. By 2050, two thirds of the global middle class and 20 of the largest 50 cities will be Asian – up from only eight cities in 2007. Then there’s digital innovation. Once iconic household names like Kodak and Blockbusters have been eclipsed by upstarts like Uber, Facebook and Airbnb. Globalization has meanwhile created a business environment in which companies have to scout for top talent across borders and organizations, not just across the city.

If you want to keep pace with those changes and capitalize on the opportunities they present, your company’s board and management needs to be every bit as diverse as the markets in which they operate. And that’s all about being open, adaptable and flexible – something that’s a whole lot easier if you’re drawing your leaders from the largest possible pool!

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