The Next Business Revolution:
I write about the success
Mass production changed business and society. So, too, did
technology. Now it’s diversity’s turn. Diversity is a critical
factor in market growth, according to research undertaken
by The Center for Talent Innovation. While workforce
productivity gains always improve earnings, continued
innovation is required to increase market share and open new
markets. And mountains of research now confirms that
unlocking innovation requires diversity of thought and
diversity of people.
In a world that is increasingly social, interdependent and
transparent, feminine skills and competencies – empathy,
flexibility, openness and collaboration – are coming to the
fore, not just as nice-to-haves but as business imperatives.
John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio revealed this finding in
their book, The Athena Doctrine How Women (and the Men who
Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future, which was based on
research conducted among 64,000 people surveyed in thirteen
As expected, women excel in collaboration, teamwork,
building relationships and mentoring. But the big surprise is
that they do better than men when it comes to initiative,
follow-through and focus on results, according to Jack Zenger
in Forget the Glass Ceiling Build Your Business Without One. He
is CEO and cofounder of Zenger Folkman.
The new valuation of these “feminine traits” is reframing
women’s leadership, not as a fairness issues but as vital to
“innovation, growth and prosperity for companies and society
alike,” Gerzema concluded.
Making Diversity Happen
Like the major societal shifts before it, diversity can cause
anxiety among those who do not want to change the status
quo in hiring practices or don’t know how. Changing minds
may take awhile but for those who want to become part of the
Innovation Age, the tools are here. Just as algorithms and
technology changed the products and services businesses
offer, they now enable businesses to change the way they hire.
SAP has purchased and partnered with companies that help
other companies open their doors to greater success through
greater diversity. The company’s own gender diversity has
had a direct impact on its ability to see business opportunities
that it might not have seen before, according to Anka
Wittenberg, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Office at SAP. Diversity
forces the company to go beyond the everyday to find new
ways of doing things, she said.
Finding diverse suppliers can be a challenge for corporations
and government agencies. It can be equally challenging to
minority- or women-owned businesses to unlock these
opportunities. SAP Ariba has partnered with ConnXus to
produce software that tracks diversity spend by categories –
function, department, geography, commitment to local
communities, meeting unique requirements in different
countries, etc. Companies with supplier diversity programs
can share their list best of diverse vendors with each other.
Another SAP product, SuccessFactors, helps companies
eliminate bias in HR decision making. SAP SuccessFactors
solutions include HR Analytics, such as a Digital
Boardroom/Diversity Dashboard and mentor matching
algorithms based on skills sets, not the characteristics of
individuals. Job Analyzer, bias-free job descriptions to attract
women and men alike, will be out next year.
“Creating a diverse, inclusive and bias-free culture makes us a
better company. Inclusion fuels our innovation, enhances our
engagement with both customers and employees, and helps
drive business success in this rapidly changing, digital world,”
said Wittenberg. In 2011, SAP set a goal that 25% of its
leadership to be women. Moving forward, SAP has committed
to an increase of 1% each year to 30% by 2022
In short, men and women, entrepreneurs and investors all
benefit when gender equality is achieved.
Is your company ready to join the diversity revolution?