The Two Most Stunning Facts about American Business

Mississippi | Missouri

No hires from west of the Mississippi! (Photo credit: Kevin Saff)

Serious question: Is there anyone out there in the Fortune 500 who actually wants to make money?

Because mainstream American business is deliberately ignoring the two key drivers of value creation – with a remarkable degree of consistency. Companies vary, but not by that much, which is why the competitive advantage implications of both should be causing CEOs (and investors) nights of sweaty, nightmarish sleeplessness or first-mover overtime.

1. As I keep noting, every survey that reports on the number of women in senior positions tells us something ridiculous. Not, primarily, unfair (though of course it is unfair). Ridiculous. Whatever they may say, corporate leaders have taken a decision to ignore 50% of the talent pool.

Think about it. No-one with brown eyes. No-one from west of the Mississippi. Dog-lovers, fine; no-one with a cat. I know, it’s complicated. But when you get paid a whole pile of moolah, you can expect zero sympathy from me if things that are complicated prove to be beyond you. Get it fixed, or get out.

We know the national numbers. Men make up 84% of corporate officers, and 86.5% of executives. To focus more narrowly, look at the latest numbers (referenced below) from the state of MA: 41 out of the 100 largest companies by revenue have no women on their boards; 52 have no women executives. No-one with brown eyes. No-one from west of the Mississippi. No-one with a cat. It is frankly hard to see how in these circumstances officers and board members can claim to be exercising their fiduciary responsibility. At a time when the pressures on U.S. business are as bad as they have ever been, nearly half the talent pool is being ignored. I feel like I should be writing this for The Onion.

I think it’s unfortunate that this has been branded as an issue about fairness, like minority representation. Because it is quite different. It is something investors, were they thinking straight, would understand. Something boards would understand. It’s about value and competitive advantage. Get it?

There’s more to be said. I’ve argued that many women are in general better suited than many men to the flexible thinking, agility, relational management, and personal shape of C21 business. There’s actually a bonus in brown-eyed, western, cat-loving hires.

2. The second stunning fact is recent, obvious, dramatic, and at least as hopelessly out of focus as the first. It’s “social.” We keep talking about it. The posts linked below give some telling numbers that drive home the point. Not one of our major corporations has grasped the strategic significance of social media and social customer engagement. Some have responded more seriously than others. A few CEOs have set a lead. But only a handful of top CIOs are personally engaged in that combo of tech and human interface which will define both the relation of corporation and customer (B2B or B2C) in this generation and the corporation’s own capacity for agile, responsive change. It’s as big as that.

So, were I to be asked, I’d suggest the CEO snap up the top 10 social gurus on the planet and build a unit that engaged equally with CIO, CMO, every customer-facing unit, product development, and strategy. With the authority of his (sigh, yes, likely, his) office. For starters. Then next week, something else.

Now, guess what? Anyone seriously think that with women occupying around half the board and executive positions the revolutionary impact of social would be ignored? Anyone seriously think that if and when social is taken proportionately seriously, and customer values demand alignment with those of the company, the asinine male-dominated corporate culture that is well-nigh universal in U.S. business will survive?

Point is, the misalignment of society and corporate governance culture will find its most ready corrective in the revolutionary impact of social in permeating the organizational boundary and enabling market-driven pressures to reshape the business enterprise. It’s all under way. Who’s interested enough in the bottom line to jump ahead?

 

Customer Service and those who don’t get it: https://futureofbiz.org/2012/07/06/the-social-revolution-customer-service-and-those-who-dont-get-it/

https://futureofbiz.org/2012/06/20/how-to-become-a-social-business/

https://futureofbiz.org/2012/06/26/82-of-moms-of-under-18s-on-social-networks/

https://futureofbiz.org/2012/06/14/tech-and-corporate-culture-social-dc-gov2-0/

The business case for investing in women – Boston Business Journal.

via The Two Most Stunning Facts about American Business.

via The Two Most Stunning Facts about American Business.

via The Two Most Stunning Facts about American Business.

via The Two Most Stunning Facts about American Business.

4 thoughts on “The Two Most Stunning Facts about American Business

  1. Pingback: The Grim Details on CEOs and Social; 14/500 are tweeting, for example | FutureofBiz.org

  2. Pingback: Three Digital Fallacies Holding Back our Top Companies | FutureofBiz.org

  3. Pingback: Three (or Six) Words to the Bankers of Sibos | FutureofBiz.org

  4. Pingback: So we’ve proved that women are better leaders | FutureofBiz.org

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