Diversity of decision-making boards the key to delivering diverse, inclusive outcomes

Value is created when we start to challenge our view around who we should have at the table CEO of Emergent, Holly Ransom, told the WA Property Council’s Women in Property Signature lunch last week.

Holly shared her personal story and anecdotes of working with world leaders, including the Dalai Lama, with a room of over 400 property professionals. She discussed new ways of thinking and explained how businesses are seeing significant benefits by applying diversity to their decision-making process.

“In the industrial age, the model of leadership and decision-making was built around the idea of ‘time in service equaled rank and ability to solve a problem’, really it was about depth of expertise, 30 years versus three years made a really significant difference,” said Ms Ransom.
“Now we’re in a knowledge economy that’s starting to change our decision-making processes, no one has a monopoly on ideas and there’s a growing emphasis on how we ask better question and the quality of the process we go on to arrive at our answers. In this context, diversity offers unprecedented value.

“Research is showing us the value of crowd source solutions from non-experts. We’re seeing a lot of international, big companies, big consulting firms, groups like NASA, Lego, Samsung where they are opening up and creating public channels. They are providing open source data and asking: ‘this is our problem why don’t you see if you can help us solve it?’

“I think this is a notion that we all need to start challenging ourselves around. They have said in psychology that you are the average of the five people you spend most time around.

“I would argue that truly great organisations and great leaders in the period ahead will be defined or typified by the diversity of the five people that they spend the most time around.

“Think about in the context of your work environment, think about the diversity of the five people that you spend time around professionally. Is there an opportunity to be around someone of a different age, a different gender, different cognitive perspective, cultural background, sexual orientation; whatever way you want to cut diversity. How diverse are the inputs that you are inviting into your own decision-making process?

“We talk a lot in this country about the macro state of diversity. How diverse are our boards and leadership teams? They are the reflection of the sum total of the individual’s decision making. The personal accountability each and every one of us has is to think about the diversity of our own decision-making boards.

‘If we change them up then we will naturally start to change the way we organise teams, and the way we are organising our companies, which will have a positive ripple effect on the diversity present in every aspect of our society.”

The Property Council Women in Property Signature Lunch was generously supported by CBRE and ISPT.