Why a more diverse workplace is also a more talented one

Raw talent doesn't just exist in ivy league business schools, says superstar business consultant Ram Charan.

Ram Charan: A leader who does not get the talent no matter where it comes from is not likely to succeed. 

Talent exists beyond the Ivy schools. Talent exists in “lower” schools. Talent exists in people who have never gone to school.

Whether you’re a woman, whether you’re some other ethnicity, it’s the talent we ought to look into. 

So my first item is to look into raw talent. 

So we say there is talent in diverse people. Age has nothing to do with it. A 90-year-old can do the algorithmic planning today from India, so no discrimination of age either. You can be young, you can be very senior. If you have energy, great.

Now we ask the question: why these are not progressing fast enough? 

First I want to tell you about the boards. If you have a hundred men, not all the hundred are going to be on the boards. They’re going to be a small percentage. Why? 

Because there are certain characteristics in these people that make them good board members. 

Now, there could be some mistakes, but the fact is only a few of the hundred are going to be on the boards, and they develop certain kind of skills, so I want to tell you what those skills are. And if you don’t have those skills you’re not going to get there. 

The first and foremost skill of a board member is to be able to ask the right questions. Most people don’t know how to ask the right questions. 

Number two is to be able to understand the financial side of the business. Business acumen is mandatory. To be able to read in a proper way the balance sheet, the P&L, the competitions, the trends, it’s a special skill how to diagnose them to the root. If you don’t have it you’re not going to succeed. 

Women succeed to the board who have these skills, and they become chairpersons of the audit committee. They are in high demand. This is the route. 

And then obviously you have to have leadership skills and poise doing that. 

So we need to create these training programs inside over time, get these people to run a profit and loss statement, company product line, country as soon as possible and give them coaching. Once they get to P&L and succeed they will be eligible to move up very fast. We are not doing that. 

Search for raw talent and train them separately, but on those items. 

Because you have to work a little bit more to find this talent that can be molded. In the men’s side it’s been going on for decades, but again, it’s going to be very few out of a lot of people who are going to get there.

The talent is in shortage. Look for the talent. Seek the talent, and develop the talent.

Ram Charan has spent his working life as a business mentor and consultant to CEOs of global companies. He's the guy that Coca-Cola, KLM, GE, and Bank of America (just to name a few) call when they need help. And he's a firm believer in a diverse workplace. If a 90-year-old can do the job the best, then why not hire them? Raw talent doesn't just exist in ivy league business schools, he says, and that applies to the whole company... from the work floor to the boardroom. Ram's latest book is Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First , and he is brought to you today by Amway. Amway believes that ​diversity and inclusion ​are ​essential ​to the ​growth ​and ​prosperity ​of ​today’s ​companies. When woven ​into ​every ​aspect ​of ​the talent ​life ​cycle, companies committed to diversity and inclusion are ​the ​best ​equipped ​to ​innovate, ​improve ​brand image ​and ​drive ​performance.

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