Leslie J. Anderson is BMO’s Global Technology Experience and U.S. Chief Technology Resiliency and Experience Operations Officer. She is at the center of BMO’s Digital First strategy where she innovates and finds new ways to strengthen the employee experience.
Like it or not, one can’t simply dissociate my experience in banking from a couple of inescapable and obvious facts: I am Black, and I am a woman – and Black women in banking, let alone Black women in leadership roles in banking – and especially in technology – are still far less common than they should be. This is despite the fact that research amply demonstrates that diverse leadership teams lead to more and better innovation and improved financial performance.
What does DEI have to do with innovation?
Simply put, diverse teams are more successful at unlocking the innovations that create competitive advantage and drive market growth.
But diversity alone is not enough. Unless you engage and include a diverse set of voices and ideas in everything you do, your ability to grow beyond your current state will forever be limited. You won’t be competing at your best.
An interesting thing happens to organizations that embrace DEI. Innovative ideas flow, new solutions are created, and we win more often in the marketplace. What’s more, those wins are infectious and make us more cognizant of other voices we might be missing – and, therefore, wins we might be missing.
Inevitably, all of us have blind spots when dealing with people who are different from us or situations we have not experienced before. We suffer that same weakness when reimagining products and services and may be blind to a shortcoming glaringly obvious to someone with a different perspective or life experience.
So, you see, if innovation is your north star – and let’s be clear that it should be – DEI is no longer something your leaders can manage on the side of their desk. It is the desk. It is the factor that separates successful organizations from the rest. It is the essential ingredient for winning in today’s market.