Hispanics in America influence the future of the US economy yet this conversation remains quiet as corporations grow more uncomfortable with this time-sensitive issue. The numbers speak for themselves. The lack of commitment in giving rise to the Hispanic community is so obvious that it is becoming irresponsible as the risk profile increases. Corporations know that Hispanics represent the fastest growing population (+$50MM) and workforce community in America. They are also aware that Hispanic-owned small businesses are growing at over twice the rate of the national average (est. +$350B revenue annually). On top of that, Latino purchasing power ($1.5T by 2015) is no mystery as there is growing tension in the boardroom with indecision about how to unlock this market segment. Regardless of the escalating “Latino factor” – corporations are not being proactive enough to engage with this valuable demographic that will represent 30% of America by 2050. As such, the US economy is weakening due to the lack of investment in the Hispanic Community that will soon dictate new business models and the ground rules for Wall Street analysts.
The following is intended to bring awareness to some of the tension points corporations can’t shake and that carry tremendous economic and societal implications if not solved immediately. The goal is to highlight a few trends that identify the opportunities that are being missed if US Hispanics continue to be viewed as a recurring expense rather than a strategic investment.
I. Hispanics Must Make Banking & Financial Planning a Priority
More than half of Hispanics expect to improve their financial situation over the next year, while little over a third of all Americans can say the same. Yet, when it comes to financial planning, or even every day banking and insurance needs, Hispanics are still in the minority.
For banks and other financial institutions, they must begin to recognize that conventional banking as we know it may not be part of the traditional Hispanic upbringing. This has led to a general mistrust of banks and, when coupled with a natural skepticism, would account for the $53 billion attributed to "unbanked" Latino households according to a study by a research arm of the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business (download report: PERDIDO EN LA TRADUCCIÓN: The Opportunity in Financial Services for Latinos). Read More About This Topic Here
II. Hispanics Lead the Recovery by Occupying Walmart, not Wall Street
Hispanic growth is fueling an increase in buying power in this country that is yet to be seen in other economies. According to Nielsen’s recent study, The Hispanic Market Imperative – it revealed that if US Hispanics were a standalone country, their market buying power would be one of the top twenty economies in the world.
Given this knowledge, it's surprising that so few retailers have put much effort into learning about the Hispanic consumer and how to serve their needs. One very prominent exception is Walmart, which has been attracting increasing numbers of Hispanics to their stores by integrating them into all facets of its business, including merchandising, marketing, operations, and community outreach programs. One campaign called "The Best Heritage is a Good Education" addressed the need for higher learning while acknowledging the importance of culture - displaying a genuine understanding of what's important to the Hispanic community. Read More About This Topic Here
III. Media and Entertainment Through the Hispanic Lens Brings a Paradigm Shift
In the world of media and entertainment, we are finally starting to see a positive shift in the portrayal of Hispanics. Cultural stereotypes are giving way to cultural authenticity. The attention usually given to Spanish-speaking Hispanics is turning to the English-speaking majority born in the United States. New Generation Latinos (NGLs) are making waves and changing the conversation. Not only are NGLs influencing traditional media, they are making Hispanics the biggest and fastest growing users of online and interactive technology, mobile devices, and social media.
Hispanics represent a huge opportunity for the news media, entertainment programmers, advertisers, online content creators - you name it. But captivating this trendsetting and game changing audience will take a different approach, one the industry is just waking up to. Unlike previous generations, largely here through immigration, NGLs are not looking to quietly assimilate. They expect mainstream media and entertainment to embrace and reflect their authentic voice and culture. Read More About This Topic Here
Note: On May 7th, ABC News announced its plans to join forces with Univision News to create a multiplatform news, lifestyle and information programming aimed at U.S. Hispanics.
IV. Hispanics Buy Brands that Empower Their Cultural Relevancy
There is a growing necessity for brand marketers to provide culturally relevant content and messaging that specifically targets US Hispanics. In fact, Hispanics are the largest immigrant group to exhibit significant sustainability of their culture and are not disappearing into the American melting pot. Now that we have confirmed that cultural sustainability matters to US Hispanics, companies must become more educated about the Latino community not just as consumers – but more importantly, as people and the identity we represent as a diverse community. They must recognize that Hispanics buy brands that empower their cultural relevancy.
Hispanics in America are growing tired of being the target of new marketing campaigns by brands that are not creating cultural connectivity. In fact, Latinos are more likely to turn away from brands that are only interested in selling to them, rather than empowering their cultural relevancy. Hispanics are more inclined to build trustworthy relationships with people and companies that take the time to understand who we are and what we represent morally, ethically and culturally. Read More About This Topic Here
The United States economy is at risk if corporations ignore the impact of Hispanics in America. If not addressed immediately, severe economic and societal recovery woes will prevail. The rest of America must mature from being uncomfortable about a topic that has direct implications to their financial well-being and the future of their children. The US economy demands that we all become more educated about Hispanics as they will soon represent the core of our country. We must stop being in denial.
According to a recent Nielsen's report, The State of the Hispanic Consumer: The Hispanic Market Imperative,Latinobuying power will have grown 50%between 2010 and 2015, reaching an incredible $1.5 trillion. To put this in perspective, the report notes that if U.S. Hispanics were a standalone country, their market buying power would be one of the top twenty economies in the world.
No wonder that more than half of Hispanics expect to improve their financial situation over the next year, while little over a third of all Americans can say the same. Yet though Hispanics represent 52 million consumers in this country and the majority of population growth,when it comes to financial planning, or even every day banking and insurance needs, we as a group are still in the minority. It doesn’t help that the median age of Latinos is 28 years old – an age when most people are still looking at 30 as the distant future.
In their pursuit of the American Dream, Hispanics are failing to protect it.Yes, we may feel confident that we will improve our financial situation over the next year.But what about the following year?And the year after that?Are we doing all we can to preserve our surging buying power?Are we protecting ourselves and our families, investing for the future and planning for retirement?
Chris Mendoza is the Assistant VP of Multicultural Marketing at Mass Mutual, where they havebeen conducting an ongoing set of national research studies on Hispanic families and business owners.
According to their research, even with an improving financial situation, 33% of Hispanics named finances as their #1 stress.As Mr. Mendoza told me:“The main concerns are not dissimilar to everyone else, especially after the financial collapse.They came here for the American Dream and a better life, but it’s disappearing.So what can they do to protect themselves?”
Though their concerns may be the same, the Hispanic experience with banks and insurance is not.There are unique tension points with this market, and education is the key – on both sides – to establishing relationships that matter.To put it in simplest terms, Hispanics need to improve their financial literacy, while financial institutions must become culturally literate.
For banks and other financial firms, that means understanding that conventional banking as we know it may not be part of the traditional Hispanic upbringing.This has led to a general mistrust of banks and, when coupled with a natural skepticism, would account for the $53 billion attributed to “unbanked” Latino households (according to a research arm of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business).
Among the solutions: don’t assume all customers have experience managing their money with a bank and provide financial education accordingly, fully explaining the risks and rewards; build trust and credibility by offering culturally-relevant and language-appropriate products and services – and back it up with bilingual/bicultural staff; ensure that your mobile banking services acknowledge and support the growing numbers of Hispanics connecting to the web via mobile devices; and establishbranch office locations to better serve Hispanic communities.
Along with the latter, it’s also important to show genuine concern for the community – for example, by active involvement in Hispanic issues and sponsorship of local events. And don’t overlook other opportunities, such as reaching out to Hispanic business owners, or Hispanic High Net Worth Individuals (HHNWI), only one-third of whom have a financial plan or plan for retirement.
There are similar tension points related to insurance, making Hispanics the group most underserved by the industry.Because insurance is not mandatory or necessarily needed in most Latin American countries, its important role in U.S. society is not widely understood or accepted.It may even be perceived as a waste of money; the “live for today” mentality of the culture translates into “you can live without insurance” and contradicts the value in planning for life’s unpredictable events.With their unique backgrounds and motivations, Hispanics cannot be lumped with the mainstream on this issue and must be addressed on their own terms.
The solutions here are not unlike those for other financial institutions: understanding Hispanic insurance buying patterns, or lack thereof,and tailoring messages and marketing efforts around Hispanic cultural beliefs and care for the community; providing culturally-specific education that clearly explains insurance terminology, how it works and why it’s important to the U.S. Hispanic community; developing websites and online tools, as well as products and services,specifically designed for Hispanic small business owners and individuals; and addressing the plight of the uninsured with a comprehensive approach to helping Hispanics acquire and maintain insurance coverage through a caring partner relationship.
Whatever the industry, all of this can be achieved with the appropriate training and certification that focuses on effectively leveraging Latinos in the workplace and communicating and marketing brands in an authentic way that resonates with Hispanic consumers.
As Chris Mendoza of Mass Mutual explained it: “Skepticism can be allayed by a professional who understands the Hispanic market and challenges of the Latino community.They want strong relationships that are like extensions of family,someone who understands what’s keeping them up at night and will take care of thoseneeds. Education, a savvy agent, and a strong brand can help close the financial gap and protect their American Dream.”
The research at Mass Mutual revealed a key lesson: One size does not fit all.What works in one part of the country may not work in another. Do you have an individualized approach to reach the Hispanic community on a market-to-market basis? Do you have a cultural marketing strategy that includes local marketing, education and recruiting field work?Do you have relevant financial products and services for Hispanic consumers with distribution in place to reach these markets?
Learn more at www.CenterforHispanicLeadership.com or follow us on Twitter @HispanicTalent
Follow Glenn Llopis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GlennLlopis
Hispanics will control $1.2 trillion dollars of purchasing power in 2012, yet most brands are still struggling to earn the loyalty of this key group. In order to cultivate long-term business growth, your organization will need to make a serious commitment to this community.
At a time when Hispanics in America are looking to establish their authentic voice and identity, they’ll embrace those brands that seek to create a meaningful long-term relationship, a relationship that grows organically and helps Hispanics gain influence. Brands that reach out to the Hispanic consumer with an authentic and dedicated approach will dominate their respective industries.
Cultural Characteristics Are Crucial to Your Brand’s Success
Research conducted by the Center for Hispanic Leadership (CHL) has identified the following six inherent characteristics that not only define Hispanic leadership (download ebook) but also show organizations how to most effectively market to Hispanic consumers:
- Immigrant Perspective: See opportunities others don’t see
- Circular Vision: Lead and manage change
- Latin Passion: Pioneer new possibilities
- Entrepreneurial Spirit: Humanity fuels innovation
- Generous Purpose: The spirit of giving to the community
- Cultural Promise: Serve to leave a family legacy
Whatever industry you’re in, your organization must become a natural part of the growing Hispanic consumer community. Your brand must earn the relationship that you seek.
To win the trust of the Hispanic consumer, your organization must execute the following four steps:
Step 1: Business Strategy (Define the Relationship):
To define your brand’s relationship with the Hispanic consumer, you have to embrace the cultural nuances that influence how Hispanics think about the products and brands they purchase.
Why do you believe your products or services will benefit the Hispanic consumer? Although Hispanics are open to exploring new things, your products or services must consistently answer specific needs for the security of their family, children, home, education and financial stability. Your business strategy must involve building trust organically across generations. Your brand’s relationship with Hispanic consumers must advance their community and help them to get closer to the American dream.
Step 2: Brand Positioning & Messaging (Build a Trust Platform):
Hispanics in America have trouble trusting others because they’ve lived with corruption, struggled for independence, and fought for opportunity in their mother countries. How will your brand earn trust from people who are naturally skeptical about those who sell to them? Why should your audience believe that your product or service will provide them long-term opportunity and advancement? How will your brand’s message lift the Hispanic community’s voice and identity?
Step 3: Interactive (Empower Voice & Identity):
Most companies start phase I & II and never finish; they fail to connect with the Hispanic immigrant perspective. Can you provide an online experience that will encourage the Hispanic consumer to engage with your products and brands? This experience should be unique to your targeted audience. It should speak to the Hispanic community’s authentic voice, and help to build the community’s leadership pipeline.
Step 4: Technology (Expand the Relationship & Measure Outcomes):
Hispanic consumers are the fastest-growing segment of the online and mobile world today. Leverage technology to expand your relationship with Hispanic consumers and measure the outcomes of your investment.
Are you designing mobile applications and management systems to continuously interact with and become more knowledgeable about your Hispanic customers? Are you creating a social media platform that allows your Hispanic customers to feel safe when sharing their ideas? Do you have the tools to measure how Hispanics contribute to your business, corporate social responsibility, and talent acquisition strategies? Do you have loyalty programs that specifically target Hispanic consumers to assure that your relationship is authentic?
Why does the Hispanic community require a unique approach?
Most organizations are still ignoring one very important point about Hispanic consumers: Hispanics are not a homogenous community. However, focusing on these three points will help your organization capture brand loyalty and create viral local-market momentum:
- Learn the six Hispanic cultural characteristics. Your brand must speak with the community.
- Remember that Hispanics in America are a leaderless community. Help empower Hispanics as community and business leaders.
- Focus on building long-term trust. Listen carefully to what Hispanics really need.
Brands that break through the walls of doubt and connect authentically with the Hispanic consumer will enjoy profitable growth for years to come.
Today’s workplace is a reflection of the times: uncertain and unstable. As employees navigate this short-term, fast-paced, tension-filled terrain, they develop an attitude that creates an uneasy environment: survival mode.
The workplace used to be focused on the planning and execution of short, mid-range and long-term growth objectives. It was a place where careers were born and legacies were created. A place that encouraged teamwork, unity and advancement, fueled by collaboration, partnerships and client relationships. Today, long-term business goals have been eclipsed by short-term personal goals: survive the unknown long enough to stay in the game. For employees this means adapting to a role where time management is unmanageable and where everything is a priority.
As you think about the dynamics in your workplace, watch out for these five signs that your employees are in survival mode:
1) Relationship Building Amongst Peers is Fading
In the past, having lunch with the colleagues you worked most closely with was normal. But now, you’re lucky if anyone in the office can spend time with you during work hours. Because employees in survival mode focus specifically on people who can salvage their jobs and careers, socializing is infrequent and relationships are fading.
2) Meetings Are Frequently Cancelled or Rescheduled
Today’s survival-mode environment has made it increasingly difficult to get a team of people in a room, because they each have a different set of urgent issues to deal with. Canceling and rescheduling meetings has become more common than ever because people want to make sure that the right people are in the room so they can sell themselves, rather than advancing the organization’s initiatives.
3) People Don’t Trust One Another
Because everyone has their own survival agenda, employees have grown to distrust one another. Since people don’t know their colleagues’ hidden agendas, employees are wary of engaging with those who may violate their trust to advance themselves. One example might be two people who were once close colleagues competing for the same promotion within their department.
4) Turnover is High and Employer Loyalty is Low
People become disenfranchised when survival mode takes over. Think about it: When you go to work and people are only interested in themselves, what’s the incentive to give more. For example, when your manager is focused more on his or her own advancement than the betterment of the team, it sends the wrong message. Over time you realize that you are not valued and thus you begin to lose that fire in the belly and you lack the desire to give it your all. You become a victim of someone else’s survival strategy and thus begin to lose loyalty for your organization. Ultimately, you leave the organization.
This year I have seen this scenario play out more often than not. In fact, people work more on their resumes than their own jobs.
5) Self-Promotion is Out of Control
Self-promotion is the ultimate sign of survival mode. When employees get desperate they begin to sell themselves in ways that become irresponsible and that can harm the organization and client relationships. Survival mode creates a fierce dog-eat-dog mentality. Even the least likely employee can turn on a dime. Keep your eyes wide open, so that you don’t get blindsided by the lack of organizational loyalty the survival mode can create.
They don’t teach survival mode in school. None of us started our careers hoping to work only for our own short-term goals. But survival mode takes over in more and more workplaces each day, as uncertainty looms and the future becomes unclear.
The United States is undergoing great change -- and at an ever-accelerating pace – during these tough post-2008 economic times, with upheavals in the political, social, and economic spheres all at once. The political mood is bitter, the social fabric is ripped in many places, and the economy continues to deliver bad news in terms of foreclosures, business failures, and high unemployment.
How to survive in this tough, fast-changing terrain? When my Cuban parents came to the United States in the wake of Castro’s revolution, the most precious possession they brought with them was their perspective. It was that perspective – their immigrant values – that enabled them to adapt, reinvent themselves and ultimately thrive in a new country, a new culture, and a new set of challenges. That’s what we need today. The following represent the six (6) characteristics that define the immigrant perspective on business leadership that will be essential for business leaders to embrace in 2012:
1. Keep Your Immigrant Perspective:
Like an immigrant who comes to a new country with nothing but faith, hope and love, all employees must not have myopia where opportunities are concerned. We need to see that opportunities are everywhere, every day, and we must make the most of those that cross our path. We need to see the opportunities that others don't see.
2. Employ Your Circular Vision:
My family – like most immigrant families – experienced crisis and change in our mother country – strengthening in us a sort of essential sixth sense, an ability to anticipate false promises and unexpected outcomes. Because our immigrant perspective allows us to see opportunities others cannot, we have wide angle vision and are proficient at anticipating crisis and managing change before circumstances force our hand. All leaders in 2012 will need to develop this ability to see around the corners up ahead.
3. Unleash Your Passion:
Our ability to inject intense passion into everything we do makes us potent pioneers. We not only blaze paths few would go down, we see them through to the end. Our passion opens new doors of possibilities that we aim to share with others. When the terrain is difficult, only passion for the quest will see you through.
4. Live With an Entrepreneurial Spirit:
In America, you might be an entrepreneur. In Latin America and other developing countries, you must be one, just to survive. The ability to see and seize opportunities to build relationships, advance commerce, and better humanity is an inborn survival mechanism for immigrants – and must become one for all business leaders in 2012.
5. Work With a Generous Purpose:
It is our nature to give. We are raised to consider others’ needs as much as our own. This begins with giving inside our family when we are young, and then, when we are older, we are taught that we are a part of a larger family all around us. Our propensity to give to others from our harvest ensures us a perpetual harvest. Business leaders who adopt this abundant, glass-half-full attitude will find 2012 a year of surprising opportunities.
6. Embrace Your Cultural Promise:
Our familial style of relating brings potentially everyone within the circle. The strongest bonds in business, across the entire value chain, occur when employees, partners and distributers alike are treated like family. The treatment is reciprocated and opportunities continue to arise. Our cultural promise is that success comes most to those who are surrounded by people who want their success to continue. Business leaders – and their companies – that embrace this attitude, and practice this skill, will thrive in 2012.
2012 – the year of the immigrant perspective. Because the times demand it, and all business leaders need to embrace the opportunities this perspective provides.
In the new normal workplace, corporate social responsibility (CSR) must come alive in how employees express their generous purpose in meaningful ways that touch the business every day. An undervalued behavior that must represent the core of an employee's generous purpose is their ability to have executive presence; a critical success factor to support a healthier, happier and community-minded high performance workplace culture.
Executive presence is not about selling a business transaction, or showcasing your knowledge, capabilities and skill-sets. Executive presence is one’s ability to create a moment; an experience that ignites others to want to know more about you, your personal brand and your business. Executive presence is mastered over time. It requires self-trust, confidence, self awareness and the ability to navigate the needs of people. Executive presence is about being a good listener and the ability to quickly connect the patterns of conversation in order to detect ones personal interests, leadership style and business needs. Executive presence is about earning the right from others to explore a more meaningful and purposeful business relationship. Executive presence is not about you; it’s about others. The one with highly effective executive presence is invited to the next meeting with the opportunity to create a more formal relationship. Executive presence is about having impactful, long-lasting presence that inspires others to want to know more.
I have worked with many prominent corporate executives. The most successful executives, visionaries and pioneers had the best executive presence. They made you feel that you were an important part of their initiatives. They allowed you to learn more about their personal life and always seemed highly engaged to learn about yours. They took the time to ask questions and you never felt that they were trying to sell you or convince you about anything. They always made you feel important, wanted and needed. The most effective executives always do. Executive presence is not about exercising your power and influence; but rather the ability to make others feel your powerful presence in a safe environment. For those that desire to intimidate others with their power; their executive role and influence will be short-lived.
As a fast track executive in my 20’s, I remember the wisdom my father shared to help me successfully navigate the dynamics of the corporate world. He said, “if you ever want to start a conversation with a person of high authority and influence, always be prepared to ask questions that are important enough to them – that it will ignite a meaningful dialogue. In order for people to take me seriously in the United States in the mid-60’s, as a Cuban immigrant who had an accent, I realized that to build new and / or sustain existing relationships that were meaningful and purposeful, I had to always add-value (lots of value) to the lives of others first. I treated them like family. When people realized that my intentions were genuine and responsible - actions ensued; opportunities became abundant for me – and the treatment was reciprocated. I always expressed my generous purpose. I built a reputation of being authentic, reliable and trustworthy. These are the types of relationships highly influential people desire. They don’t have time to waste.” In retrospect, my father’s immigrant perspective represented the tenets of Executive Presence.
One point of caution: many people in positions of authority do not always have executive presence. Their self-doubt, lack of confidence and preparedness may not lead towards developing a more formal relationship. Most often, they are concerned to reveal their own personal and professional limitations and insecurities. Just because someone has an important job title doesn’t mean they have character, and / or are well intentioned. In the end, it’s all about people.
Take a moment to observe some of the world’s most influential leaders like as Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Barrack Obama, Bill Clinton and others (see 2010 Time List). What makes you want to know more about them (whether you like them or not) is their mysterious appeal driven by their Executive Presence.
Here are a few characteristics of executive presence:
• Your presence is felt once you walk into a room
• You inspire people; you are likeable and trustworthy
• People are very curious to know more about you
• People want to be your friend; build a relationship with you
• You are perceived as important, valued and respected
• You have an elegant way of approaching, engaging and getting to know others
• You ask timely, relevant and thought-provoking questions that ignites a dialogue
• You are social, well read and share fresh perspectives
• You always leave behind a thought-provoking message that people remember
• You relate equally well with different types of people (regardless of hierarchy or rank)
• You positively impact others and those around you immediately
• You share and create opportunities for others
• You smile, maintain eye-contact and always make people feel important and hopeful
I welcome your comments, thoughts and experiences with executive presence in the workplace.
May this Immigrant Perspective on Business Leadership, serve you well.
Diversity management is the key to growth in today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace. No longer can America’s corporations make excuses about their lack of cultural intelligence. Organizations that seek global market relevancy must embrace diversity – in how they think, act and innovate. In today’s new workplace, diversity management is a time-sensitive business imperative.
To better understand this fast-changing terrain, I reached out to three notable diversity executives -- pioneers within their respective industries – to share their insights and perspectives regarding the future of diversity and some of the new best practices that will allow diversity to play a more strategic role in cultivating sustainable business growth:
- Dr. Rohini Anand, Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexo
- Ron Glover, Chief Diversity Officer, IBM
- Kathy Hannan, National Managing Partner, Diversity & Corporate Responsibility, KPMG LLP
Make it Real or Lose Your Authenticity
Most corporate leaders pay lip service to diversity but don’t really live it. Diversity is more than employee demographics and support for a few non-profits. You can’t buy diversity, and organizations that continue to embrace this approach will tarnish their brand. If you are not authentic, consumers and employees will begin to question the sincerity and leadership of your organization.
As Rohini Anand says, “The traditional representation perspective originated from the Civil Right era. This will never go away entirely. However, diversity must go beyond this mentality. At Sodexo, diversity is embedded in our brand. The Sodexo brand is synonymous with diversity. Though the Sodexo brand is not a known consumer brand, diversity leadership defines our brand – it’s all about talent. Diversity is about responding to the needs of our clients in a holistic way.”
And Kathy Hannan adds, “Companies must take a long term strategic approach to engage diverse talent. Companies must define their role in the global marketplace. The train has left the station. You may not be where you want to be with your diversity strategy, but you need to get started!”
Executives Are Still Short-Sighted
I’m reminded of a pre-recession discussion I had with a consumer goods executive who said: “Diversity is another way of saying affirmative action and we are forced to support it in order to protect our brand in the trade and amongst our consumer audience. Diversity has no real value tangible to the growth of our business.” Unfortunately, many executives still share this opinion today.
Rohini Anand says, “Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies have been particularly effective with diversity from a marketing initiative standpoint. However, this is different from embracing diversity holistically. Companies must think about diversity beyond addressing niche needs. Diversity is not just about accessing multicultural markets. Companies must look more broadly to reinvent the way we think about how business is done. How can diversity be pulled out of this commoditized mentality? Diversity leadership must drive innovative perspectives. Companies have not yet figured out how to unlock the potential within markets and processes that must be enabled globally.”
Diversity is much more than just a multicultural issue. Diversity is about embracing many different types of people, who stand for different things and represent different cultures, generations, ideas, and thinking. As Ron Glover says, “Innovation is about looking at complex problems and bringing new views to the table. Diversity has allowed IBM to be innovative and successful for 100 years and to work across lines of differences in 172 countries, amongst 427,000 employees.”
For example, are you paying attention to the Internet and how online communities continue to grow and represent different voices and points of view – and opinions about your company?
Kathy Hannan notes, “Diversity has moved from a nice-to-have, to a must-have for companies as a strategic business imperative. KPMG has a multinational client base. We must understand their protocols, their ways of doing business. Diversity must move from just a value, to being operational.”
Anand adds, “Diversity must drive the formation of new business models. Leaders must think about the changing landscape. The economy is changing, how business is being done is changing, so the question is how can diversity be utilized as a strategic enabler in today’s changing landscape.”
And Glover says, “Diversity is a core belief of IBM in how we succeed in business. In order for IBM to successfully expand globally, we need a workforce that understands the local market. Our clients are as diverse as our employees. And there are now 5 generations in the workplace. We must focus on building communities inside of IBM to embrace differences to drive innovation globally.”
Diversity needs a Refresh
Diversity clearly needs a refresh. The misinterpretations of what diversity means and what it truly represents have limited its ability to have the real impact and influence it warrants in America’s corporations. In fact, the executives who get it today will tell you how concerned they are for their business, because their people, products, and services do not connect naturally with the new faces of America. As one executive told me, “Our business demands diversity and we are more uncomfortable with our lack of diversity preparedness than ever before. We are in trouble if we don’t fix it!” As a result, most companies have been forced to react not only to the changing face of America and but the mindsets of the global marketplace. Consequently, executives have started to confront the inevitable: a new business model that fully integrates diversity as a business growth enabler.
Kathy Hannan says, “No homogeneous talent pool can be innovative. Diversity is essential. And, there are broader implications across the whole supply chain. Diversity is about how you do business across the board.”
The Future of Diversity
To better understand the future of diversity management and its role as a business growth enabler, think back to when Information Technology (IT) was viewed as just a cost center. IT was not associated with driving business growth 20 years ago, but rather as a required cost of doing business. Just like diversity today, many people then thought IT got in the way of business. Today, IT is considered a profit center by many and a high priority for organizations as a business growth enabler. In fact, many CIOs (Chief Information Officers) are next in line for the CEO role.
CDOs (Chief Diversity Officers) will experience many of the same functional role and responsibility shifts as have CIOs. They will not only be required to assume their practitioner responsibilities, but they must also learn to play a more integral strategic role in the design of new business models. Glover notes, “Diversity is a critical leadership success factor at IBM. Globally diverse leaders are maximizing the effectiveness of our teams. IBM has recognized the importance of building teams across the company from different countries. It’s not just about leadership, but capability. Diversity is fundamentally focused on talent! Those differences create real opportunities for those who learn to master them and a disaster for those who do not.”
Diversity management will begin to develop rapidly, out from under the traditional human resources and talent acquisition roles, to assume more dotted-line responsibilities that will touch corporate strategy, corporate social responsibility, organizational design & effectiveness, corporate marketing and even sales. Therefore, the requirements to be an effective CDO will mean that they must include operating more holistically in a general management and operational capacity to ensure that diversity becomes an embedded mindset with common threads that touch all functional areas (internally) and the supply chain (externally).
Hannan notes, “Good intentions are not a substitute for accountability. Everyone must be accountable for advancing diversity.”
How you manage diversity in your organization from today forward will determine your long-term success or failure in the global marketplace.
Leadership in America should be about holding everyone accountable to the highest standard of community and commerce. It should represent a voice that is diverse in its spirit, attitude and ownership. A voice that inspires us all to take action for the betterment of a healthier whole; where we can all stand for something that makes us feel that we have each other’s back and that we are pulling for one another’s advancement.
Leadership should not be represented by specific moments in time. President Obama’s recent surge in the popularity polls because of the successful elimination of Osama bin Laden is not a reflection of good leadership; that’s what we call management. We find leadership instead in the long hunt for bin Laden – by two presidents and many other people throughout government and the military. Leadership should be authentic and trustworthy, a voice that holds on to its relevancy, impact & influence through time.
As a young man, I remember how President Reagan inspired a country. Reagan was authentic and whether you believed in his policies or not, you believed in him as a person. He made you feel proud to be an American. Reagan delivered a message as if it were a two-way conversation. Many agreed with him, many did not; but all acknowledged his capacity for leadership.
So, what does leadership look like today in the US? It appears to be a combination of sensationalism and entitlement. Think about the following: Arnold, Tiger, Donald, and Sarah — just to name a few. The fact that we refer to them by their first name says it all.
Today, the people are not paying attention. All the noise around us has made it difficult for people to understand the intentions of our leaders and of our own personal responsibility for leadership. As such, we are quickly losing our leadership identity. We need leaders who can cut through the noise and remind us of what we are about – and what our personal responsibility is.
As Gen Yer’s get ready to take over the leadership of America, who are their role models and what will define their approach, style and attitude? Mark Zuckerberg and Lady Gaga? How can we help this new generation of leaders? It’s time for us all to step back and ask ourselves the question: what is my leadership responsibility and how can I act now?
I welcome your comments and remarks.
Last week I was the keynote at a Leadership forum. The first question I asked the audience of 300+ people was, when you drove here this morning, what was your primary objective for attending the forum? There was silence until someone finally said, “to meet new people.” I asked why and this person responded, “to learn new things.” I asked why once again and this person said, “to sell my services.” I again asked why one final time and he said, “to make money.” So your primary objective was to make money at this forum? I asked. He said “yes” and then someone from the audience shouted out, “good luck selling now that everyone knows you want their pocket book!” Everyone laughed; it was an effective icebreaker. But the real moral of the story is that your objectives define you and your identity. In this case, the forum participant revealed his intentions; and his identity didn’t necessarily sit well with the rest of the audience.
We all know that you must understand your audience and their needs before defining your objectives – but have you ever thought that you must understand yourself first? Your objectives must support your true intentions and the type of leader that you want others to experience. What are your objectives?
Let’s ask that question about a few organizations in the news recently. Think about the Occupy Movement for a moment. In simple terms, this is an assault on the objectives that Wall Street leaders had been implementing for years. How about the GOP Presidential Race? Their objectives are so unclear that they would rather create chaos among themselves instead of supporting a plan that all Americans could understand well enough to discuss with one another. What about Obamacare and the administration that passed the law? Is this about political prowess or offering better healthcare to Americans?
As we all experience this uncertain economic terrain, think about your objectives and what you want to accomplish each day. Are your intentions self-centered? Do you share them with your colleagues? Do they impact the healthier whole or just your own hidden agenda?
What about the objectives your boss has every day when she walks into the office? Is she transparent enough to share them? Are you part of her real agenda? What are the measureable outcomes?
This reminds me of when I was hired to coach a level senior executive. My task was to help him with a leadership approach that was abrasive. We were going to try to shift it one that was more cordial and communal with his colleagues. His productivity was declining as his level of engagement with his peers and subordinates was waning. After just a few days, it became clear to me that this individual intentionally created a communication barrier that not only made him less approachable, but gradually less likeable. In the end, this individual had decided that his objective was to create silos by exercising his power rather than forming a greater community amongst his colleagues. Instead of being a leader and lifter, he decided to become a loafer and a leech based upon how he used his power to manipulate others. After digging deeper into the issue, we discovered that this individual was threatened by the new younger, more vibrant generation of talent all around him. He felt that by creating distance his power would strengthen and a greater dependency on his role in the organization would emerge. He hoped that this would than salvage his job, his salary and all the benefits associated with his position.
Of course, he was wrong. The effect of his siege mentality was to alienate others rather than empower himself.
The more I speak with Fortune 500 leaders, the more concerned I become about the future of American enterprise. It’s as if our leaders were trained to work without revealing their true intention. As a result, too many workers are executing the objectives of their organization without understanding the ultimate goals and desired outcomes behind them. The workplace is blinded by distrust and dishonesty. Most people just don’t feel safe, and are fearful of doing something wrong, unaware that they may be fueling someone else’s hidden agenda.
Step back and look around your organization. Are the objectives of the organization in alignment with the intentions of its leaders? Or, is your company being led by hidden agendas that must be revealed in order for the organization to grow and prosper?
America’s corporations don’t have time or the money to finance ineffective leadership. Don’t allow tenured leaders to run on auto-pilot. Challenge their objectives. Ask questions. If not, opportunities remain unseen if corporations continue to operate blindly. It’s time for leaders shape up or get shipped out. The workplace today can’t afford for anyone not to be completely focused, productive and steady at all times.
There are three political ‘weeds’ that root themselves beneath the surface of workplace conversations. While many other weeds can exist, you must learn to spot and uproot these three, above all others, in order to maintain a momentum of good fortune in your work.
Trust is easy to spot; its antithesis is not. Distrust will not show itself in obvious fashion because distrust knows it is not welcome. It will hide and only become visible to those with the skill to see beneath the obvious. The ability to spot the weed of distrust is not simple, but all weeds of this nature look alike.
Spot distrust once and it becomes easier to spot again.
Let’s suppose you are in a meeting with both executives and coworkers to discuss the future of the company. If you have eyes like most, you will only see what is expected: positional leaders offering evidence of a good harvest to come. That’s what’s expected. It’s what workers have become accustomed to hear. But what is expected often keeps us from seeing what is true.
When distrust is present beneath the surface of an organization, executives will withhold full disclosure in meetings where employees are present. This does not mean a disaster is imminent, but it does indicate an unstable foundation that is unable to sustain a momentum of good fortune.
Many make the mistake of assuming it is the leadership’s duty to be optimistic—that it’s in the company’s best interest to paint an optimistic picture in order to keep employees motivated. Not so. When the leader trusts her people and, perhaps most important, trusts her own ability to lead, she will paint an accurate picture of the company’s present crop and future harvest knowing this is the surest path to success.
Trust must exist between an organization and its people for good fortune to be earned and then sustained. Every company must face the challenges of a marketplace full of unpredictable variables—as a farmer must face the challenges of unpredictable weather. This will surely mean that some harvests will be better than others for reasons a company cannot always control. But for an organization to continue in a tradition of success—despite the effect of unpredictable variables—trust must be its soil.
Look beneath the details of your next company meeting. What political undercurrents exist? Is the leader merely making the expected power play, puffing himself up and blowing smoke to cover up the truth? Can the leaders be trusted and do they trust the workers? Are the discussion topics in the meeting subjective, vague, and seasoned with optimism? Or are they objective and supported by observations from the workplace?
If you see that distrust exists beneath the surface of your organization, you must understand the implications and then act accordingly to preserve a momentum of good fortune.
You can fail or succeed merely through the organization with which you choose to associate. If the company for which you work is planted in bad soil, not only will it struggle to bloom, but so will you. The longer you maintain your association, the smaller your field of opportunities will become. On the other hand, when you associate yourself with an organization planted in the soil of trust, your opportunities will increase in measure with the organization’s growth.
Indifference is perhaps the simplest of the political weeds to spot. In conversation, indifference shows itself in an inability to make a clear statement, offer a definitive opinion, or provide tangible involvement. I have observed many people who do not realize they are displaying these signs, but their ignorance doesn’t negate their indifference.
An indifferent leader will lead you and your company no closer to good fortune than one who drops one quarter in each of three different slot machines. The odds of success are random and unpredictable at best. To attempt to sustain a momentum of good fortune under her leadership is equally unpredictable.
An indifferent coworker or business partner will make it difficult for you to grow the best opportunities when they arise. He has neither the eyes to see good fortune nor the skills to seize and sustain its growth. These deficiencies will damage the soil of your field of opportunities. You must remove yourself from association with him in order to be unaffected by his misfortune
and keep yourself unencumbered to capture the good fortune all around you.
3. Lack of integrity.
This political weed is a harvest killer. When lack of integrity is evident beneath the surface of conversations, it is a sign of imminent disaster. It is easy to mistake lack of integrity for indifference. Perhaps this is because we always lean toward giving others the benefit of the doubt. We would prefer to ascribe lighter character flaws to people if we must ascribe any—especially to those we work with on a regular basis. This is a good quality present in most human beings. However, we cannot in the name of good faith blind ourselves to what is imminently damaging to us.
When lack of integrity is spotted, it must not be ignored. It shows itself most often in inconsistency. By this I do not merely mean a person not doing what she said she would do. This is an obvious observation. In conversations, lack of integrity shows itself in a subtler manner—through the slight changing of opinions and exchanging of loyalty.
Lack of conversational integrity often gives the appearance of affability. The saleswoman’s manager offers an opinion on the slowing of sales in the first quarter. The saleswoman nods, and along with the rest of the room, she turns to see the COO’s response.
He disagrees and as he does, the saleswoman affirms his position through subtle nods, note taking, and direct eye contact. Perhaps you are tempted to see this as a benign episode of kissing his backside. It is more than this. When a person—whether a leader, coworker, or partner—pays often into the strategy of making the most important person happy, she cannot be trusted to do what she says. It is impossible to uphold such an agenda and simultaneously sustain good fortune. Some opportunities go against the grain. You must therefore make certain to avoid close associations with this person to keep your field of opportunity wide and fertile.
How many times have you encountered distrust, indifference and lack of integrity in other people. Did you employ your circular vision to avoid the unexpected and unpleasant outcomes? During this post 2008 economy where people are operating in survival mode, these three weeds are appearing with great frequency. As you detect them, step back and recognize that you must course correct quickly to assure that you associate with people that will allow you to keep positive and productive momentum on your side. I welcome your thoughts, comments and stories.
May this Immigrant Perspective on Business Leadership Serve You Well.
|"Adversity is very big when it is all you can see. But it is very small when in the presence of all else that surrounds you."|
|-- Glenn Llopis|
|Hispanic Business Development|
|Personal Employee Branding|