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  • Lou Killeffer

Diversity as Competitive Advantage

From an interview with Perpetual Insights

Q. How important is diversity hiring as an issue for you personally?

It’s critical of course and an important step in the continuing evolution of who and what we are. Diversity’s primary impact can be seen and felt in what we, as marketers, do for a living; reflecting the evolving composition and character of the society and markets we serve.

Why wouldn’t the workplace mirror the marketplace?

Marketing today is hard enough without working from a self-imposed ivory tower. Success in business is a social process where the best ideas are shaped, informed, and improved when shared. Indeed, the best, most innovative and creative ideas come from the open discussion of a wide variety of viewpoints. Group think without any alternative perspective inevitably leads to complacency, as in “We’re fine. We know it all”. And don’t just such beliefs fuel the worst kinds of bias, both conscious and unconscious?

Employers hire for what I call the essentials – integrity, drive, optimism, curiosity, and courage – as these drive critical thinking and creative problem solving. Combining the widest variety of these essential human qualities - across gender, race, and culture - strengthens each individual’s ability to contribute and collaborate while naturally enhancing the scope of any team. To deny this obvious dynamic, in my view, is the path to mediocrity, if not failure.

Diversity hiring hasn’t just been morally and culturally right forever, today it’s critically required to compete. In this way, it’s not simply decidedly good behavior, it’s clearly a very best businesspractice.

Many of my clients, from multi-nationals to regional non-profits, have embraced diversity through the years with varying degrees of success. Any effort is a step forward but like every corporate decision execution is essential. Those that succeeded soonest, applied such principles at the Executive Team level first; because there’s simply nothing as effective as leading by example. As seen in our arena by the most recent achievement of one of my favorite former clients, Wendy Clark, DDB’s first female global CEO from receptionist to ceo meet ddbs first female global ceo wendy clark.

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