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Difference Makes a Difference

Posted by: Nika White on Friday, October 4, 2013

Research continues to show that diverse teams produce better results. Diverse boards demonstrate good corporate governance. However, counterintuitive to these statistics, most recent census reports show a fall rather than a rise in women and minorities in leadership positions. As we strive to compete in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, organizations cannot afford to ignore leadership diversity as a critical driver of success. The Catalyst 2012 F500 Census, which annually tracks top executive positions noting their gender and race/ethnicity, showed evidence of slow progress for women seeking board positions with only 16.6% acquiring seats on boards of Fortune 500 companies. According to the Catalyst study results, in 2011 and 2012 two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies did not have any women of color serving on their boards. Corporate America has a rich supply of qualified women and minorities providing many opportunities to seize the advantages that a more diverse leadership can offer. Upstate South Carolina has an opportunity to be a true leader for this movement. Leadership diversity is critical to the achievement of the Greenville Chamber’s vision of Greenville becoming the premier business community in the world. The Chamber actively supports talented women and minorities in our community in achieving leadership positions in greater numbers. The Chamber launched a Diversity Leadership Pipeline (DLP) in November of 2012 with the goal to advance women and minorities in leadership roles in the Upstate. The DLP captures information from qualified women and minorities interested in serving in various leadership capacities, including nonprofit and corporate boards of directors. To date, approximately 700 individuals have submitted their information to the pipeline and about 50 local organizations have utilized the DLP to find qualified individuals with the interests and expertise their boards need. The DLP creates an opportunity for the Chamber to be a resource for organizations looking to fill corporate, public, private, political and nonprofit board positions. Last November, the Chamber held its first ATHENA Leadership Symposium to stress the need for women in leadership positions, specifically as corporate board directors. Last April marked the launch of the ACE Leadership Symposium. The key mission of this event is to share with the community that in order to advance leadership and corporate board service for ethnic minorities, there must be a concerted effort to advocate and collaborate for the success of such individuals. The event intends to empower leaders to create a roadmap for succeeding in leadership, and empower influencers who can sponsor and help minority leaders to achieve corporate board service and higher levels of organizational leadership. As the Greenville Chamber strives to increase its key metric, per capita personal income, we must charge our business community to make significant efforts to develop leadership teams that better reflect the demographics of our community at large. The lack of diversity in corporate, public, private, political and non-profit board positions should serve as a wake-up call and inspire local organizations to step up and make an effort to diversify their leadership, both for the better of our community, and for their bottom lines. The Greenville Chamber’s ATHENA Leadership Symposium will be held at the Poinsett Club on November 5, 2013 from 8:30 am to 10 am with keynote speaker Michelle Gethers Clark, former senior executive with American Express and current president/CEO of United Way of Greater Greensboro. I invite you to watch the promo video and register today! Learn more about CAPACITY, Greenville Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative Follow CAPACITY on Twitter Like CAPACITY on Facebook Check out the CAPACITY YouTube Channel


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