Diversity Is Experiential, Not Just Visual
Author: Michael J. Loparco, Jabil’s Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, Engineered Solutions Group
Jabil’s operating model has evolved over the years from a pure electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company to a full service proactive solutions provider. When you look at our business today through operations across the globe, we’re providing uniquely tailored solutions to new customers, in new markets, and in new regions around the world – often via new business models! To serve these customers best, I try to consciously avoid having a monolithic viewpoint that can be present if all employees on a team have the same thought processes, background, skill sets, or training.
To Avoid a Singular Mindset, Diversity Helps
In my experience, diversity on teams can lead to more well-rounded thinking and efficient problem solving. Such teams often provide situational understanding and empathy, generating ideas or bringing new perspectives which can help reflect the needs of our ever-diverse customers and end-users.
Starting my career as a practicing attorney, I represented many companies but never envisioned working at a manufacturing company like Jabil. It simply wasn’t on my radar. When I joined Jabil, it seemed like an obstacle to have come from a different background, not being an engineer or having worked my way up through the manufacturing arena like so many of my peers. As a result, I deliberately inserted myself into the operations and engineering discussions to listen, learn, contribute and train alongside my daily responsibilities. Reflecting back now, I realize how equally important it was for me then to have assimilated — as it was for me to have brought an “outsider” perspective to help run this wonderful and complex machine we know as Jabil.
Diverse Backgrounds Encourage Inclusivity
Over the years I’ve seen first-hand how diversity and inclusion can help drive business success. Looking beyond my personal experiences, there is sound academic research that points to the benefits of diversity, as well. A widely published 2017 study by McKinsey, for one, depicts a very strong correlation between diversity and financial performance, suggesting “gender and ethnically diverse companies are likely to outperform their peers by 15% and 35%”. I can attest to this benefit from the vantage point of leading Jabil’s Engineered Solutions Group (ESG). In ESG I’m surrounded by a wonderfully diverse team from all continents and backgrounds, and whose invaluable insights based on broad cultural, gender, educational, and experiential backgrounds have undoubtedly been instrumental in our stable growth. This is mirrored at an enterprise level where Jabil’s globally diverse local workforces have achieved such phenomenal success in so many varied end markets and geographical locations.
While there’s much work to do, I continue to see evidence that our broad Jabil workforce is evolving at many levels. We now have two women on the Jabil Board of Directors with growing female leadership in senior executive positions across the company. Of course, we shouldn’t rest on our oars, as a recent internal review plainly suggests there’s more room to grow and promote qualified female and diversity candidates at all levels of our company. To ensure that diversity thrives and continues to bear its resulting fruits, our culture at Jabil should continue to welcome differences of all kinds while encouraging the contentious, yet respectful, debate of ideas on their merits which are made in the best interests of Jabil. This has always been core to our values at Jabil. And programs such as Jabil Joules and Deliver Best Practices are just two strong examples of this culture at work. These programs help signal to the current and next generation of Jabil employees that everyone is valued and their ideas, regardless of origin (and indeed because they might be different), are welcome here without fear of judgment! In doing so, we can feel comfortable we’re raising a steady cadre of future Jabil leaders who are aligned with the morals and principles we share of equal access and equal opportunity, which the Morean family embodied more than 50 years ago.
On a Personal Note
My wife, Marcela, and I regularly and gratefully welcome the diverse and multi-cultural ESG team into our home. The reason is at least twofold: First, is to connect with my team in a less formal but genuine setting where we’ve undoubtedly learned a lot about the business from such casual and personal interactions with each other. Second, is because I want to ensure our daughter, Isabella (9 years old), who we adopted from China, grows up surrounded by people from around the world hearing multiple languages, viewpoints, and experiences, celebrating diversity in its many forms. We hope this exposure will help provide her, in part, the character and tools necessary for success when she eventually enters the workforce at a time I can only imagine will be even more globalized and diverse than the world we know today.
As we start a new year, I’d respectfully encourage our employees to proactively support diversity, inclusion, and tolerance at Jabil. As ‘One Jabil’, we can continue to create and maintain our awesome environment and culture that help attract and retain the best talent, irrespective of the forms of human differentiation which make us interesting and unique as people.