Odd title, I know, but that’s my home state’s motto. The Ole’ Granite State made history last night by becoming the first state in the Union to elect an all women Congressional Delegation.
When I was growing up in the state of New Hampshire, it was a very conservative place. And I mean conservative. During the 1970s our governor was a man named Meldrim Thomson, Jr. He was a member of the American Independent party, a group that was in alignment with the segregationist, Governor George Wallace of Alabama. While governor, he called for arming the NH National Guard with nuclear weapons. I’m not sure Massachusetts, as progressive as it was at that time, constituted such a dire threat to the citizenries’ right to Live Free or Die. He couldn’t have felt threatened by sweet, little Vermont, our tiny twin state to the west, whose primary export at the time was the devil maple syrup. Or Maine, even if it was the home of Mo Udall. I suppose Canada did loom silently and suspiciously to the north. As late as 1978, the governor headed a trade delegation to South Africa, and upon his return, championed and praised the apartheid government. He once helicoptered in to the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station, dressed in military fatigues, to personally order the arrest of 1,400 protesters. And just for fun, after a long day of spewing venom from his office in Concord, he enjoyed arresting speeders personally from his official government car.
Well, on this morning of November 7, 2012, the state of New Hampshire has come a long, long way. My home state is the first in the Union to have an all women Congressional delegation. In addition, the state also has a woman as governor, meaning the entire senior political leadership in the state is comprised of women.
The reason I point this out today is the fact that Corporate America has a long way yet to go. Of the Fortune 500 companies in America, only nine have women CEOs. This is down from twelve in 2011. This isn’t just a diversity issue, it’s a performance issue. Earlier this year, McKinsey & Co.® issued a study entitled, Is There a Payoff from Top-Team Diversity? The study examined 180 companies and found the companies with the most diverse leadership teams significantly outperformed their least diverse counterparts. How significantly? They delivered a return on equity that was 53% higher than the least diverse organizations. In addition, their EBITDA averaged 14% higher. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like competitive advantage.
The pace of change and growing complexity of business in the 21st century demands we, as business leaders, secure the engagement and inclusion of every human being in our organizations. Diversity enriches our perspectives and has been proven to drive profitable growth. Yet we still have a long, long way to go. But come on, if New Hampshire can shed its myopic past, can’t the rest of us quickly follow suit?
© 2012, Terry Murray.