The Leadership Lyceum: A CEO’s Virtual Mentor podcast series provides situational advice to a wide audience of leaders and boards of directors through conversations with those that have been there. The podcast brings unprecedented, one-on-one access to top, current and retired, CEOs and Directors of Boards and provides beneficial information and valuable insight on situational and topical issues that confront CEOs and Boards from those that have faced them before - often in dramatic circumstances. Consider it a “Virtual Mentor” for CEOs and other leaders, because let’s face it – it’s lonely at the top.
There are basic leadership challenges common to all CEOs as well as specific situational circumstances that warrant attention in our series. The interview format delivers memoir, profile, perspective, and in a unique fashion - not only draws answers - but also brings fundamental insight. We hope that you will find merit in all the episodes and comment and contribute your own situations of interest. We’ll do our best to cover them with those CEOs that have faced them.
Why is Achieving Diversity So Hard? Overcoming Homophily and Our Own Human Nature with Sociologist James Cook
Welcome to Episode 25, Season 6, of the Leadership Lyceum: A CEO's Virtual Mentor®. This is part one of two episodes aimed as a celebration of Black History Month.
In August 2020, USA Today reported that 11% of the directors across the 50 largest companies in the S&P 100 are black. On the other hand, gender diversity on boards has shown better improvement over the last seven years. BoardEx just released data that revealed gender diversity on corporate boards in the US increased about 10% over the seven-year period from 2014 to 2020, that is from 19% to 28.8%, a year on year average growth rate of about 1.4%. France and Norway are at 44% and 39% respectively, but their growth rate is slower than the US. You see, they started from a higher percentage level in the first place. We agree with all the benefits of having diverse boards, but we think that a 1.4% growth rate is not even close to good enough.
Since the 2017 founding of our sister company, Lyceum Leadership Consulting, we’ve placed diverse candidates in 24 out of 43 of our board and executive searches, or 56%. It's a track record we're proud of, but we can do better. If we assume the good intentions of everyone involved in board selection decisions to improve upon those numbers, then what is holding us all back? What is causing the stubborn persistence of diversity levels across the world? Lyceum Leadership Consulting thesis is that we are battling our own human nature.
In my search work over the last decade and a half, I often observed that a missing link in creating boardroom diversity is often a lack of diversity in the professional networks of the board of directors or the nominating committee themselves. As often, candidates are identified and selected from these networks. In order to understand what causes a lack of network diversity to exist, it's instructive to understand sociology applied to these social networks.
In this program, we examine ways of counteracting our own human nature to ultimately make significant improvements in boardroom and executive diversity.
Joining me on the program is Associate Professor of Sociology, James M. Cook, from the University of Maine. One of Dr. Cook's areas of expertise is in the area of social network analysis. I discovered Professor Cook's work in my own research on this perplexing issue. I was especially intrigued and informed by an academic paper that he co-authored in 2001 called Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks.
A CEO’s Virtual Mentor Episode 25
Why is Achieving Diversity So Hard?
Overcoming Homophily and Our Own Human Nature with Sociologist James Cook
0:00 Introduction to the program and Dr. James M. Cook, Associate Professor of Sociology, from the University of Maine.
4:26 Definition of Homophily
7:25 Homophily in the boardroom setting and the limitations of the board
11:20 Break 1
11:19 Social Capital: Bonding and Bridging
14:34 Break 2
14:47 Part 1 of the Framework for Overcoming Homophily: Finding people who are different
25:35 Break 3
26:19 Part 1 (continued): Finding, or being found, at the individual level
33:46 Break 4
34:29 Part 2 of the Framework for Overcoming Homophily: Uniting through the instability that bringing people who are different causes
40:24 Break 4
40:51 Part 3 of the Framework for Overcoming Homophily: Managing conflicts that are bound to arise.
44:15 Break 5
44:38 Conclusion: Intergroup relations and advice toward improvement in diversity outcomes
55:06 End of Program and Preview of Episode 26, part 2 of 2, in celebration of Black History Month
We would like to express our special thanks to the clients of Lyceum Leadership Consulting that enable us to bring you this podcast.
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Inspiring award-winning performances from your talent: Crossover applications to business leadership from the theatrical development process with Charles Newell, Artistic Director of Court Theatre in Chicago
I'm joined in the program today by Charles Newell, Artistic Director of the renowned and critically acclaimed Court Theatre in Chicago.
We'll cover a wide range of topics in today's program. We'll outline the organizational form of the Court Theatre, including its governance, funding and management structure. But the majority of our time will be spent stepping through the phases of the creation of a production from script selection to closing night.
The Anatomy of a Private Equity Investment: from M&A roll-up, to IPO, and beyond with Advanced Disposal Services’ Chairman and CEO Richard Burke
I'm joined by Richard Burke, Chairman and CEO of publicly-traded solid waste services company, Advanced Disposal Services. We will be discussing Richard's leadership in a company that delivers a service punch well above its $1.6 billion weight class. We'll cover ADS's evolution from private equity backed roll-up of solid waste businesses through its IPO in October of 2016 and right up to just prior to the announcement on April 15, 2019, that Waste Management would purchase Advanced Disposal.
A Remarkable Corporate Turnaround: The “Take-Private” of Talen Energy with CEO Ralph Alexander and CFO Alex Hernandez
Today I'm joined by Talen Energy’s CEO, Ralph Alexander, and CFO, Alex Hernandez. We'll be discussing the remarkable turnaround of Talen Energy that Ralph and Alex have been leading.
Climate Change as the Foremost Challenge of Our Generation with Dr. Ralph Izzo, Chairman, President and CEO of PSEG
I am joined by Dr. Ralph Izzo, CEO of PSEG in Newark, NJ. This Earth Day Episode covers a number of topics relevant to our Mother Earth including the subject of climate change which Dr. Izzo considers to be the foremost challenge of our generation. Our sweeping climate-oriented discussion ranges from the utility industry’s role in combatting climate change, cognitive biases in political decisioning, nuclear energy’s opportunities in the war on climate change.
The ESG Canvas for Corporate Reporting with Pat Kampling, Chairman & CEO of Alliant Energy
I am joined by Pat Kampling, CEO of Alliant Energy in Madison Wisconsin. This Episode 20 includes a discussion on ‘sustainability’ and the quickly emerging and rapidly evolving area of ESG criteria. Institutional investors are demanding action and attention to ESG and CEO’s are responding by charting their companies’ course. This is not without tension for corporate management teams. We’ll discuss with Pat how she and Alliant have been addressing ESG and hopefully put you at ease.
Tom Lindquist is a mighty whisperer
After listening to many Leadership Lyceum podcast episodes, one common point is clear: Thomas Lindquist is a generous interviewer, curious, and someone who makes connections that others might not see. What a joy to see ideas blossom here.
Good Mind Candy
Interesting thoughts on mentoring and on professional development; on being flexible and adaptable so as to grow beyond your current role