Viewpoint: Boston needs leadership diversity by design

Boston Business Journal
February 15, 2019

What will the business and civic leadership of Greater Boston look like in 25 years? Without bold interventions to diversify our organizations, it will look a lot like it does today, and even 25 years ago, when we began our professional lives in this great city. Flashback to “The Vault,” a small and homogeneous group of CEOs from Boston’s largest companies who met quietly to shape the growth of our region’s economy. With a few notable exceptions, today’s landscape of corporations and business advocacy organizations doesn’t look much different in terms of gender, racial and ethnic diversity. They suffer from the same problem as The Vault — they are not intentionally building diversity by design.

The current criteria for inclusion in many institutions perpetuates “sameness.” Our sourcing, hiring and appointment practices are built on historically flawed systems that excluded women and people of color. When diversity is an afterthought rather than a part of the creative process of reshaping our institutional policies and culture, we find ourselves with boards and executive suites which struggle to include diverse members because they don’t meet the “criteria.” If an organization can’t find diverse candidates to sit on its board or in its C-suite, it is time to change the criteria. That’s what intentionality and diversity by design are all about.

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