Saturday, June 28, 2008

Diversity vs. performance

"Siemens' top management is too German for its own good, as well as too white and male, according to its chief executive."

I've heard Hasso Plattner and Henning Kagermann, the ex and current CEOs of SAP respectively, say the same thing. SAP has, over the last decade or so, swung from male-German to male-German+American and back in its management structure without any real difference to its top line or bottomline.

It's true that until they hired Bill McDermott, an American, to run US sales, the company didn't do very well in this geography. Once they did, everything went swimmingly well. So definitely there is value to hiring some "local talent" in sales-y roles.

As a liberal, I'm all for diversity. But as a businessman, I wonder how big a deal is diversity in the enterprise.

Does it really matter (outside of sales) whether "a big Chinese" is "running China" or "a big Indian" is "running India"?

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