In so many ways I feel that small business is ahead of the corporate world in terms of flexibility, responsiveness and creativity and another area, I think not coincidentally, is in the area of diversity.
In working with CEOs of small business, finding the best people is a key challenge in the SME area – I rarely hear a discussion about gender or ethnicity – the challenge is always to find the most competent people.
Today I attended a lunch at PWC where the discussion was around the benefits of diversity. To its great credit PWC has a diversity strategy with programs designed to ensure the building of a diverse team. It does seem to make great sense to have a diverse staff and board. Yet, as we all know, women and ethnic groups are extremely under represented in the public company arena in Australia today.
If two brains are better than one, a diverse group of individuals brought together for joint purpose must surely arrive at more creative solutions than a group from the same background.
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In the rapidly changing world of business today, energy, creativity and a positive culture play a huge part in a healthy, competitive business. My argument is that bringing together diverse people can add real value to the bottom line.
The chairman or CEO of course needs to value these differences, facilitate these differences and extract the best thinking from a diverse group.
Our customers are diverse and often largely female particularly in business to consumer business and yet how often are these companies run largely by males of the same genre?
Perhaps small business is the real beneficiary of the staid approach of many public companies as women often prefer the more open and flexible culture of small business. Equally they often start up their own business simply to avoid the restriction of being part of a large inflexible business.
We do know that in Australia, as in many western economies, that one of our bigger challenges going forward is finding talented people.
Great people make for great business. Finding those people requires that we look across gender and ethnic background to find the best.
Marcia Griffin’s latest book, High Heeled Success (pictured left), is a frank account of building a business from a solitary sales person to a multi-million dollar business with 4,700 sales consultants around Australia and New Zealand. Contact Marcia to purchase. Marcia’s latest venture is skin care company griffin+row.