There has been a lot of blather about Facebook’s upcoming IPO. Many are critical of Facebook because they don’t have anyone other than white men on their board. Those critics are very misplaced in their criticism.
It’s not diversity for diversity’s sake that makes the whole stronger. Too often we think diversity is like going to the grocery store. We pull different genders and colors off the shelf and hope that the diverse mix will satisfy the “diversity requirement”.
Before you stop reading this and call me a racist, I don’t discount diverse opinions and experiences. I just think that before anyone points fingers on diversity, they ought to think about the facts behind the anecdotes and examine what true diversity really is.
First off, it’s not diversity of skin color or gender that matters per se. It’s diversity of opinion and using diversity of strengths and weaknesses to build a more robust organization. For example, no matter what color or gender you are, if you come from a family of money you will have a different experience than someone that grew up in a blue collar area. That is sort of simplistic I know, but I hope you get the point.
People in business have different skills and experiences. They come from different areas of the country. That shapes different world views. Melding and managing those types of things correctly can create a very powerful force on a Board of Directors that can support the organization.
One fact that you need to know before you draw any conclusions about Facebook is that the Venture Capital world is about 95% male. Males also make up the largest percentage of the population in majors like engineering, and research sciences. People with those backgrounds find themselves becoming entrepreneurs a lot of times that lead them to pursue VC when they are done running their company. It is a circular cycle that has repeated itself for years.
There are various academic studies on diversity. One at Harvard showed that diversity really didn’t matter to the success or failure of a company. But, because institutional investors placed a value on having a female on the board, companies that had a female had a higher stock price.
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