Article | Harvard Business Review | September 2013

Great Leaders Who Make the Mix Work

by Boris Groysberg and Katherine Connolly

Abstract

Business leaders send a powerful message when they make a commitment to diversity that goes beyond rhetoric. But what motivates them to do so, and how do they actually create inclusive cultures? To find out, the authors interviewed 24 CEOs whose firms were known for embracing people of all backgrounds. These executives saw diversity as a strategic and moral imperative and made promoting it a personal mission. Many had experienced what it was like to be an outsider, which gave them a deeper understanding of the barriers that women, in particular, face at work. The CEOs resoundingly agreed that an inclusive environment was one in which employees contributed to success as their authentic selves, and the organization respected and leveraged their talents and provided a sense of connectedness. Eight best organizational practices for instilling such a culture emerged from their interviews: 1. Measure diversity and inclusion. 2. Hold managers accountable. 3. Support flexible arrangements. 4. Recruit and promote from diverse pools of candidates. 5. Provide leadership education. 6. Sponsor employee resource groups and mentoring programs. 7. Offer quality role models. 8. Make the chief diversity officer position count. It's also key for CEOs to dedicate time to work personally on diversity initiatives. That sets the tone for everyone and helps ensure that organizations attract and develop the best talent.

Keywords: Leadership Development; Working Conditions; Leading Change; Management Practices and Processes; Organizational Culture; Diversity Characteristics; Gender Characteristics;

Citation:

Groysberg, Boris, and Katherine Connolly. "Great Leaders Who Make the Mix Work." Harvard Business Review 91, no. 9 (September 2013): 68–76.