Thursday, June 2, 2016

Listen to new voices

I just read about research done by the University of Notre Dame on mergers and acquisitions at U.S. public companies, comparing how often acquisitions occurred before and after the boards of said companies added one or more women. Interestingly, acquisition rates went down 18 percent after a year at firms that had no women on the board but then added one or two. Merger and acquisition spending fell by an average of $97.2 million.

What was the point of the study? It wasn't necessarily about women on a board as such but about diversity. The lead author of the research analysis said that the addition of women to the boards changed the dynamics of the board interactions. Discussions about the challenges of a merger were more likely to occur. This analysis is supported by other research, too. It all points to more in-depth discussions in diverse groups—and thus, better decisions. Having people of different backgrounds on a board, whether that's about gender, ethnicity or race, helps to break up groupthink and homogeneity. I find that fascinating. And believable.

What it underscores for me as an individual, too, is that in my personal and professional decision-making, I want to listen to different voices, gather different views. We all love to hear from people who think like we do and agree with us. But sometimes we need to hear new and challenging voices.

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