"How many of you have been on vacation to international?" asks Andy Bird, Chairman, Walt Disney International.
Of course, "international as a place does not exist," shares Mr. Bird. However, many American companies tend to bucket the world as "The U.S." and "International." We see disproportionate investment in what we are most comfortable with (U.S.), while we do business in over 200 distinctly unique countries and territories.
Management Issues recently posted an article citing a global survey by The Conference Board and Right Management which found that "North American executives get fewer international assignments over the course of their careers than their counterparts in Europe or Asia" and argues that this insularity is "harming global leadership development among U.S. and Canadian organizations."
This poses a leadership development problem as well as a globalization issue for American companies. While American companies play a main role in the global economy, leadership within those companies lacks diversity and international experience.
At Disney, we recognize the importance international experience for our Cast (Check out Disney Institute facilitator David Mulvey in Egypt pictures above). In addition to providing travel opportunities, Disney leaders are prepared for their trips abroad with access to resources that help familiarize themselves with other countries and cultures.
At the heart of this emphasis on international experience is the growth of an appreciation for diversity, a foundational element at The Walt Disney Company and an initiative that is led by Paul Richardson, the companys Chief Diversity Officer. "Each day our employees bring the benefit of their unique experiences, talents and cultures to our parks and resorts, studios, and campuses around the globe. This diversity enables us to better serve our consumers and recognizes the magic in all of us," says Richardson.
When global assignments occur within your company, celebrate them, and encourage sharing of stories to "demystify" other parts of the world. How does your organization celebrate diversity and broaden its leadership perspective?