Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon
I must admit, I don’t pay much attention to Major League Baseball (MLB) throughout the season. I do check to see how my Red Sox are doing, and at least they spoiled the home field advantage for the Yankees this year. But I don’t watch much baseball all summer. When playoff time comes, I do get more involved and watch some games, if only to root for whoever is playing the Yankees (and I guess my cheering succeeded). But what does this have to do with diversity and strategic advantages, you ask?
It all stems from a recent HBR blog on Major League Baseball’s strategic approach to diversity. In the posting Roger Crockett states, “Baseball understands what corporate America typically doesn’t. Diversity in business is a strategic advantage (my emphasis added).” Seventeen percent of the team managers are people of color. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf says, “When it comes to hiring if you open it up to the whole world you are going to get more qualified people, if you limit hiring to white males you shrink the pool of people.” MLB believes this statement so strongly that since 1999 each managerial vacancy includes interviewing at least one person of color.
In August, 2010 U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, the only Hispanic senator, released a study of 219 corporations on the Fortune 500 list and 71 of the Fortune 100 companies. Hispanics comprise 3.28% of board members and 2.90% of executive teams. They are 15% of the U.S. population. Women comprise 18.04% of board members and 19.87% of executive teams, far less than their percentage of the population.
The Baldrige Criteria ask about your workforce and how it represents the diversity of your hiring and customer communities. The Criteria ask how your organizational culture benefits from the diversity of your workforce. Of course, we define diversity more broadly than the content of this blog post. We include race, religion, color, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age and generational differences, education, geographic origin, and skill characteristics, as well as differences in ideas, thinking, academic disciplines, and perspectives. However, this blog post is equally valid for considering and benefitting from any of those diverse characteristics of people.
I don’t think I have ever seen a Baldrige application in which diversity of the management team was given as one of the organization’s strategic advantages. Can your organization claim this strategic advantage? Would you benefit if you could? Would you be able to better serve your current and potential customers?
P.S. For anyone who is curious, after my previous blog post, my wife and I did return to the vehicle emissions testing facility this past Saturday. Of course, we did check the web site first to make sure it was not a service reduction day. We were in and out in less than ten minutes and both cars passed.