What challenges should the leader of a firm's diversity efforts be concentrating on at the present time?

We believe the key challenge is to consider the needs of the world marketplace.

We believe the key challenge is to consider the needs of the world marketplace. Whether a company is headquartered in the US or abroad, the customer base of the vast majority of agencies is increasingly more global.

To meet the needs of these consumers, it is critical that companies have a diverse employee pool, one that has "cultural dexterity" - the ability to be literate in cultures unlike their own. Cultural dexterity allows employees to be able to articulate the unspoken needs of consumers worldwide, design product solutions to meet those needs, and market those solutions more effectively than their competitors.

Many of our clients want to increase their success in China. To facilitate this, we help their employees build cultural dexterity by increasing their understanding of how US management theories differ from the Chinese. For example, while Americans are encouraged to express independent thinking, their Chinese counterparts value collective decisions and respect hierarchical structures. With this knowledge, companies gain greater internal efficiencies and innovation.

Janet Reid is principal partner at Global Lead Management Consulting.

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