You Need New CEO Blood

Sharon Jones, president of consulting agency Jones Diversity Group, spoke with Diversity Executive about the workplace implications if companies keep hiring familiar faces and what diversity leaders can do to change things.

Define a good global CEO candidate. What characteristics would you advise a company to look for?

Jones: Companies know to look for leadership experience and vision. They also know to look for technical experience in some industries. Where companies routinely fall down is the explicit consideration of diversity in global CEO candidates. I would advise companies to look for as many different aspects of diversity as possible; it is the best way to get new ideas and approaches. In addition to leadership and vision, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, global experience, experience in other industries and companies are characteristics companies should consider in order to select world-class leaders for the 21st century.

Big companies like to believe they are global in outlook, but many are still run on a provincial basis. Is that problematic?

Jones: The more insular a company is, the more likely it is to run on a provincial basis. While it is great to promote from within, it should not be the only factor considered, because to do so in a company that has little global diversity is likely to continue the lack of diversity. If the company is overwhelmingly male, the only way to rapidly increase diversity will be to hire women from outside the company as well as promote women from within. It can be extremely difficult to achieve diversity goals with an insider-only strategy. It can also be extremely difficult to lead a global company without global diversity experience. If a company values a global outlook, it will need to practice that value in its hiring and promotion strategies.

What can diversity leaders do to ensure their C-suite is globally diverse?

Jones: Diversity leaders should work to ensure that all members of the C-suite have global diversity experience or as many members of the C-suite have diversity experience as possible. This is important given the national shifts in economic power occurring on a global basis. Specific knowledge of global markets as well as C-suite members with multicultural competencies will be especially valuable as we move forward. Finally, to ensure the final hiring decision will result in C-suite executives with global experience, it is important to encourage diverse slates with candidates from other regions of the world as well as candidates with experience managing different global regions.

Ladan Nikravan is a senior editor at Diversity Executive. She can be reached at