(Originally published on Forbes)
"People often think of inclusive leadership as maybe something that feels a little soft," observes Oracle’s Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, the first African-American woman to chair the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and now the first-ever chair of the just-created Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. "But I would submit that it is a key to competitive advantage and differentiation."
How so? If people are indeed a company’s "most important assets," then it behooves company leaders to diversity those assets—to hire and cultivate people not just of different genders and races, but also those with a variety of interests and experiences, rooted in different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. Homogeneous thinking doesn’t tend to spawn breakthrough ideas, products, and business models, Ellison-Taylor reasons.
For example, the team of application user experience experts that Jeremy Ashley has assembled at Oracle represents 18 different cultures from across the globe. Ashley says he values people whose interests go well beyond their work as UX designers. "Many innovations come about when somebody gets an idea from somewhere else—from a different business, from something they read or saw in a movie or on TV, or whatever, and they say, ‘Wow, that can apply to what we do,’" he says.
Ellison-Taylor, in an inspiring presentation captured in the video below, boils down the business case for inclusive leadership to three economic realities:
It’s incumbent on all business leaders to look for talent in uncommon places—different geographies, universities, industries, and disciplines, she says. And once those people are onboard, inclusive leaders must allow them to bring their "authentic selves" to work every day while reserving a seat at the proverbial table for the next generation of leaders, Ellison-Taylor says.
"So when we talk about what that table looks like, I don’t want anyone to get up and give me their seat. I just want them to move over," she says. "There’s room for all of us at the table."
Take a look at the embedded 18-minute video for more of Ellison-Taylor’s thought-provoking insights and a deeper look into her extraordinary career. And please visit Oracle’s Experience Inspiration site for inspiring video-recorded presentations by other business and technology leaders.