Monoculture Is Bad For Business

It’s been demonstrated over and over again, but businesses refuse to learn the lesson: Homogeneity is its own punishment in the world of business. From the Washington Post today:

[T]he experience of the past year suggests that we desperately need to bring more women into leadership positions on Wall Street, in politics, in regulatory bodies and in American life generally. For decades, corporations and financial firms have sponsored expensive training programs to promote more women into their ranks. They have launched much-needed maternity policies and flexible work arrangements. Most of these initiatives, however, have been pursued to make life easier for the women involved — or, more cynically, to remove the threat of lawsuit or adverse publicity for the firms.

The financial crisis has exposed a quieter but equally pressing concern: We need women in leadership positions not only because they can manage as well as men but because they manage differently than men; because they tend — over time and in the aggregate — to make different kinds of decisions and to accept and avoid different kinds of risk. We need women who will say no to bad decisions based on male-dominated rivalries and clubby golf course confidences. We need women to blow the whistle when risks explode and to challenge the presumptions that too many men, clustered too closely together and sharing a common worldview, can easily indulge.

As the constant wail from Wall Street should remind us, diversity isn’t just nice in theory. It makes for better business.

There’s a related question here which no one is asking, which is whether the economic catastrophe facing the global marketplace is a result of a failure of white culture in America. The media is always quick to ask whether problems like violence plaguing minority communities are symptoms of a toxic culture in that community, but I haven’t seen any questions to that effect in regard to this financial meltdown.

I’ve written a good deal about monoculture on this site over the years; The correlation between diversity and success has been repeatedly demonstrated.