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Why Diversity Is More Important Than Having a Meritocracy
Look at Wall Street in 2008, and the White House right now. Diversity—of people and cognitive perspectives—is crucial for avoiding failure.
Sallie Krawcheck is a financial feminist, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, a recently launched innovative digital investment platform for women. She is the Chair of Ellevate Network, the global professional women's network, and of the Pax Ellevate Global Women's Index Fund, which invests in the top-rated companies in the world for advancing women. She is also the best-selling author of Own It: The Power of Women at Work.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, she was CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, of Smith Barney and of Sanford Bernstein. Krawcheck has also been named among the top ten of Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People" in business list, as well as one of Entrepreneur Magazine's Entrepreneurs to Watch. and she has also been referred to as one of the most successful and influential executives in financial services.
Sallie Krawcheck: In my experience, most CEOs and boards “get” the power of diversity. There may be some who are giving it lip service still out there but in my travels these individuals understand that not only is it the fair thing to do, and it’s really the tenet upon which our country was built, but it’s really the smart thing to do.Financial results, reaching different customer bases—I think they get it. Sadly, middle management is where diversity goes to die. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because there’s research I’ve recently come across that says that diversity is actually worse in meritocracies. It’s really surprising, right? You’d think, you know a meritocracy, people will search out the best person, will search out the best strategy and we'll judge them later, and the capitalism, the market forces, will decide. Huh.
But it’s worse in meritocracies and I think it is exactly that sort of hands-off perspective, that if you’re a CEO you get it, you’re hiring all the time, et cetera.But if you’re in middle management, you’re hiring, what? Once a year, twice a year, four times a year? Once every few years? It’s not a regular part of the job. And the research tells us that while there are these supposed benefits to diversity that we tend to retreat to the comfortable. We tend to overvalue products that we already have. We tend to overvalue environments in which we already exist.
And by the way the longer we have it or exist in them, the more we overvalue them.And so what you see in the middle management is, "I like working with people like me. Maybe I read some research report one time that said diversity was better but gosh, I like Jim,” right? “Gosh I like him.” Compound that with that we tend to allow ourselves in this country to ask the wrong question. And the question we usually ask when hiring people is, “Can you help me find the best person for the job?”
The “best person for the job” — our cognitive shortcut is, typically, someone who reminds us so darn much of ourselves. Whereas what we should be asking is, “Can you help me fill out the best team?” Build the best team with diverse skill sets, et cetera. So as a CEO my advice is changing. My advice is to often override the meritocracy. That this desire to let your managers manage — honey, we tried it. There's nothing more meritocratic than Wall Street and look what happened there. The most homogeneous of environments and oh— financial crisis.
And so to put metrics out there, to pay managers on diversity is, I think, the only way to drive it. And as for the old diversity committee which you sort of did that ten years ago and, “Look, we’re working on diversity because we have it.” If you’ve had something in place for five and ten years and you’re diversity is not moving forward it’s time to stop it. It’s time to do something different, to change the tired mentoring program into a sponsorship program. To set those quotas—I know we hate the word quota—to set those goals. To pay people on those goals. To try to do something that’s different.
P.S. it’s not a pipeline issue. It’s not a lack of talent issue. There are plenty of women, there are plenty of professional women, there are plenty of people of all kinds of diverse cognitive perspectives out there. It’s not just bringing them in and letting the organization work; the organization is working against you.
There is no doubt in my mind that the financial crisis that the United States and the world suffered would have been less severe if we’d had more diversity on Wall Street. There’s no doubt. We know this intuitively. If all of us think about those cavernous trading floors where the individuals populating the trading desks looked the same, that if those had been incredibly diverse, sort of the United Nations of every different kind of person you could have, we intuitively know that the crisis would have been less severe. We intuitively know that if there were more women at the senior leadership tables that the crisis would have been less severe.
And not only do we know it intuitively, the research tells us this. The research tells us that homogenous teams tend to over-trust each other. We cognitively finish each other’s sentences. “Oh, she’s just like me. Or he’s just like me.” So therefore since we look and talk and act alike and have a set of shared experiences, I understand what you’re thinking and what you’ll do next. And so homogenous markets tend to be mispriced by tens of percentage points.
The other thing that the research tells us is that trading risk can be driven by testosterone. And that as gentlemen’s testosterone increases they take on more trading risk. As it reduces, less trading risk. You know who doesn’t have a lot of testosterone? Women. Women! And it’s funny because we women get that rap for being so “emotional” and so “hormone driven”. But, in fact, what the research tells us is you can track the risk with testosterone, not estrogen.
You know we are sitting here today in the early months of the Trump administration. And the pictures of the leadership are startling and striking, in that it is not unusual to see a picture of all white males. Whether that’s all white males huddled around, you know, in the oval office, huddled around the president on the telephone, or whether it’s all white males making decisions about our healthcare. Sitting here in these early months of the Trump administration I think you would be hard pressed to say that the administration is running efficiently, effectively, like a well-oiled machine, taking into account the complexity of what it’s trying to do. There have been several important missteps. And there’s no way, to my mind, those things are unrelated and the research would tell us that they are indeed related.
We need to rethink our diversity strategy, says Sallie Krawcheck. What we've been trying for the last decade hasn't been working, but what exactly is the problem? Research reveals that diversity is actually worse in meritocracies. Managers—and particularly middle managers, Krawcheck points out—fall into the cognitive trap of hiring people who "remind me of a young me" (i.e. look like them and think like them) instead of more cognitively diverse people who would bring a missing skill set to a team. This is as important now, under the almost all-white male Trump administration, as it was in the 2008 Financial Crash. Wall Street is one of the most homogenous institutions in America, and Krawcheck has no doubt that having a more diverse set of minds in finance would have lessened the severity of the global crash. In addition, risk-taking and the poor decision making that results can be tracked to fluctuations in one hormone: testosterone. Whether it's the housing bubble, America's healthcare, or foreign policy, these are mistakes that affect millions of lives. As a CEO, Krawcheck's approach and advice on diversity is changing. The current strategy has been a failure, but what if companies paid their managers, in part, based on the diversity of their hires? What if we thought of diversity as more important than meritocracy? Sallie Krawcheck is the author of Own It: The Power of Women at Work.
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.
A time for sleep<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Mt29uUqI" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="931343dee3c02121445e51e94ba22446"> <div id="botr_Mt29uUqI_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Mt29uUqI-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Mt29uUqI-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Previous studies had already suggested a link between persistent nightmares in childhood and psychosis and borderline personality disorder (BPD) by adolescence, but researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology wanted to see if a similar connection existed between these mental disorders and other childhood behavioral sleep problems.</p><p>To do this, they scoured data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a longitudinal cohort study that followed approximately 14,000 children born in Avon, England, in the early 1990s. The study followed the children for more than 13 years. During that time, mothers filled out questionnaires asking about the children's lives. Factors looked at included housing, parenting, nutrition, physical health, mental wellbeing, environmental exposures, and so on. </p><p>The cohort study inquired about sleep routines, sleep duration, and awakening frequency when the children were 6, 18, and 30 months old, and then again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years. It also assessed mental health in adolescence using semi-structured interviews, such as the Psychosis-Like Symptom Interview.</p><p>"We know that adolescence is a key developmental period to study the onset of many mental disorders, including psychosis or BPD. This is because of particular brain and hormonal changes which occur at this stage," <a href="https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/psychology/marwaha-steven.aspx" target="_blank">Steven Marwaha</a>, professor of psychiatry at Birmingham and senior author on the study, <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200701125431.htm" target="_blank">said in a release</a>. "Sleep may be one of the most important underlying factors—and it's one that we can influence with effective, early interventions, so it's important that we understand these links."</p><p>After compiling the data, the researchers discovered an association between children with irregular sleeping patterns and teenagers with <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/psychosis/about-psychosis/" target="_blank">psychotic experiences</a>—that is, episodes when the person perceives reality differently than those around them. Even when depression at 10 years old was considered as a mediating factor, their findings still suggested "a specific pathway between these childhood sleep problems and adolescent psychotic experiences." </p><p>Toddlers with shorter nighttime sleep duration and late bedtimes were likewise associated with a <a href="https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml" target="_blank">borderline personality disorder</a>—a disorder marked by a pattern of varying moods, self-images, and behaviors—in their teenage years. Depression at age 10 did not mediate this particular association, suggesting a separate and more specific pathway. </p>
A more restful tomorrow<p>While the sample size was large and mental health was assessed with a validated interview, there nevertheless remain limitations to this data. For starters, sleep habits were based on mothers' reports. Because they came from memory, versus a more direct observation method such as actigraphy, these data may be prone to imperfect recollection and reporting error. There are also many confounders that could be secretly nudging the results, such as family conditions, prenatal medicines, and a host of environmental factors. Finally, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024884/#:~:text=Sleep%20difficulties%20in%20youth%20with,fear%20of%20dark%20%5B13%5D." target="_blank">the relationship between sleep problems and mental disorders</a> is both complex and two-way.</p><p>As such, the study shows an association between poor childhood sleep later mental disorders but does not prove a causal link. Parents need not worry that a string of nightmares or the eternal struggle settle into bed will be the first ingredients in a witches' brew of debilitating mental disorders. The goal of the study, the researchers point out, is not to create undue worry but improve our ability to recognize the signs of at-risk children and deliver necessary interventions earlier.</p><p>"The results of this study could have important implications for helping practitioners identify children who might be at higher risk for psychotic experiences or BPD symptoms in adolescence, and potentially lead to the design of more effectively targeted sleep or psychological interventions to prevent the onset or attenuate these mental disorders," Isabel Morales-Muñoz, the study's lead researcher, <a href="https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20200702/childhood-sleep-problems-linked-to-adolescent-psychosis-borderline-personality-disorder#:~:text=Sleep%20problems%20during%20early%20childhood,study%20published%20in%20JAMA%20Psychiatry." target="_blank">told Healio Psychiatry</a><u>.</u></p><p>If a parent reading this is worried that their child's sleep patterns are deleterious, the take away should not be despair over an unyielding fate. It should be to seek professional help as soon as possible to begin improving sleep duration and quality. Even if you aren't worried, it's worth remembering that childhood experiences lay the foundation for a lifetime of salubrious sleeping habits. It's so much more than beauty rest.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.