[Tone from the Top, cont.] Binders Full of Women

Binders full of .......(women)??

While the Twittersphere exploded with Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women”  it shouldn’t have been any surprise.

Guess what? Romney has lot of company. Many, many organizations lack decent diversity at the leadership level of one sort or another, whether it be racial/ethnic diversity or male/female diversity.

What’s “decent” diversity? Enough of something to have a critical mass and not the one token person of color or one female (or male) on an otherwise homogeneous executive team or board of trustees. (Lord forbid you might have a gay or lesbian person or two on a larger board or exec team.)

While I’m unabashed Apple bigot, CEO Tim Cook’s exec team at Apple is as white as Romney’s was as Bain: Apple’s leadership is 12 white guys.

While Google now has decent ethnic diversity in its executive and senior leadership team, (only) 3 of its 21 leadership team members are female.

Short story? If you don’t organizationally commit to a diverse exec team at the top of the organization the message you send is that you don’t think diversity is that important.

For the record in 1994 when Romney was the Bain Capital CEO the firm had 95 vice presidents – all white – and only 9 of the 95 were female. If you don’t establish a diverse network while you’re working your way up, you won’t have a diverse network when you get to the top.

In the case of Romney’s former private equity world, BloombergBusinessweek notes “Low levels of diversity have hurt the industry by limiting investment opportunities and leaving executives surrounded by like-minded decision makers, according to investors and corporate-governance experts who have researched the subject.”

In a global world, or even the multi-ethnic San Francisco Bay area, such a proposition – lack of diversity –  is dicey, bordering on stupid.

Just ask Mitt.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.

Binders full of …….(women)?? Photo credit: katerha

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