As the Black Lives Matter movement continues throughout the globe, corporate diversity is once again on the minds of leadership in the United States. Leadership has begun developing strategies to improve diversity in their structure. Regardless of the motivations behind resisting this change, leadership might not understand that corporate diversity is a measure that not only elevates BIPOC professionals, but will improve the quality of life within the corporation.
When leadership is singular in representation, it cannot
possibly consider all the needs of everyone in the organization. Leadership
that is composed entirely of White executives will have a functional blindness
or bias towards the needs of non-White employees. Not only will they leave
their non-White employees feeling undervalued, but corporations can be selling
themselves short on opportunity to improve business from within, and ultimately
One of the most obvious benefits to having corporate
diversity—both at the executive level and below—is that diversity breeds
innovation and creativity. When a corporation continually relies on the same
thinktank of people who all come from similar backgrounds and have similar
experiences, you will eventually begin to see a patter in the same 15 ideas or
solutions generated by that thinktank. Workforces with diverse backgrounds see
a more diverse array of ideas, innovations, and solutions to challenges faced
in the workplace and in the market.
The more corporate diversity you have, the more likely your
team will generate ideas and solutions that will better serve your customer
base. Different skills and different histories of experience will lead to a
more unique brainstorm—from the conference room to the loading dock. According
to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, businesses with corporate
diversity are able to find solutions to problems faster than teams of employees
from similar backgrounds. The speed attributed to corporate diversity is due in
part to the fact that these corporations foster an environment that promotes a
free exchange of ideas, where everyone has a place at the table and their voice
is heard. That is the sort of corporate culture all businesses should be
Diversity is more than a two-pronged approach, but it is important that you have diversity from the top down, and that every person feel as though they can safely bring ideas, concerns, or solutions to the table. By encouraging this diversity, you make sure every person on your team feels as though their voice is being heard. When employees feel heard and valued, the corporate culture of the entire business significantly improves. We know the effects of corporate culture move in a cycle. Employees are either positively or negatively impacted by engagement and validation from leadership, which in turn effects their own engagement, which directly impacts their level of output. As corporate culture improves, output increases. The elevation of those diverse voices has the capacity to save your corporation money in billable hours, workplace lawsuits, and engagement.
Corporate culture audit
At Lauth Investigations International, we pride ourselves on
using our intelligence services to connect business leadership with the
solutions they need to improve their company from within. If you suspect your
business is suffering due to a lack of diversity, call Lauth Investigations
International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit.
Elizabeth Holmes was once the shooting star of Silicon Valley. With a lifelong hatred of needles, she set out to turn the world of healthcare on its ear by developing a more efficient and inexpensive way to draw and test blood in order to screen for serious diseases. In a world where access to affordable healthcare is a hot-button issue, Holmes was slated to become a revolutionary of her own making, with Forbes magazine dubbing her the “youngest self-made woman billionaire.” Now, Holmes is a pariah in Silicon Valley and heads are left spinning in the wake of the Securities and Exchanges Commission having issued a 24-page document revealing just how her duplicity left investors in Theranos’ research out $9 billion dollars.
To litigators and legal commentators, Holmes’ fall from grace is a familiar narrative. Intention to defraud aside, they say the roads in Silicon Valley are paved with ambitious young entrepreneurs who are more than willing to stretch the truth in order to sell their business. They have the determination to succeed and the naivety their deception will be forgiven once their investors are flush with wealth from returns. Since this has happened before and will likely happen again, how was Holmes able to mislead investors under the radar of Theranos’ board of directors? A breakdown of the board’s composition might hold the answer.
Prior to the release of the SEC complaint, the members of the Theranos board of directors had impressive backgrounds that might leave little doubt in their abilities to supervise the good of the company. There were former politicians such as U.S. senators and former cabinet members, who dealt with high-stakes situations every day in their capacities. There were former executives with previous experience in making decisions and placing trust in competent individuals. But despite their differences in resume, they all had one glaring similarity: They were all white men, over the age of 65. Research has shown while their backgrounds might have been impressive, their homogenous nature may have played a huge role in preventing them from identifying Holmes’ fraud before it was too late.
According to Prof. Andras Tilcsik, who holds the Canada Research Chair in strategy, organizations, and society at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, diverse boards are what prevent problems in large companies, “Companies with more gender diversity on their boards, for example, are less likely to reissue financial statements because of error or fraud. Diverse groups also tend to consider more factors when making a decision. Racially mixed juries deliberate longer, share more information, discuss a wider range of relevant factors and even make fewer mistakes when recalling facts about a case. Ironically, lab experiments show that while homogeneous groups do less well on complex tasks, they report feeling more confident about their decisions.” What the research is telling us is this: The more a person looks like us, the more we are willing to trust them. The attention to detail that might have been shown by a more outwardly diverse board was not shown by the Theranos board of directors in the case of Elizabeth Holmes. The similarities shared between members of the Theranos board likely created a false sense of security and allowed Holmes’ deceptions to go unnoticed.
Diversity in expertise prevents boards from becoming too comfortable with business practices and makes them open to new ideas. Given the research on homogenized groups, it is reasonable to think this group of white men with an average age of 76 may never have questioned the veracity of Holmes’ research and her promises to deliver the next big thing in medical technology. This has happened before and is likely to happen again, because while the source of the fraud is often dealt with and forgotten, there is no examination of how board composition can enable fraud.
Carie McMichael is the Communications and Media Specialist for Lauth Investigations International, writing about investigative topics such as missing persons and corporate investigations. To learn more about what we do, please visit our website.