Dan Helfrich is the Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting, where he has worked for over 20 years. Although he had always wanted to be a sportscaster, once he graduated from Georgetown University, he had a choice between broadcasting and consulting and he ended up choosing consulting. And that choice has led him to where he is now, which is leading a team of 56,000 people.
Dan is very passionate about diversity and inclusion, which seems to be at the center of a lot of conversations today inside of organizations. Dan says, “I actually think some are talking about it as a theme, and I think that’s wrong. Diversity and inclusion is an imperative, not a management fad, and not something to pay lip service to. And what we’re doing is, we are putting diversity and inclusion, and I view those as related concepts, but that have distinct elements to them. We’re putting that at the center of everything we do, we’re striving for increasing the representation of our teams on a ton of dimensions, in terms of gender, and in terms of race, and in terms of sexual orientation, and in terms of veterans, and in terms of parents.”
So how does he make sure that diversity and inclusion is part of the DNA of an organization with a team of 56,000 people? First of all, Deloitte puts all of their leaders through unconcious bias training. Also, at the end of every meeting Dan personally asks two questions to the group–how can this team be more diverse and how can this team be more inclusive?
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As Dan shares, “No team is ever diverse enough, and no environment is ever inclusive enough. And so, opening the conversation to that set of topics unleashes a whole lot of great thinking and a whole lot of dialogue that creates comfort level in an organization about talking about things like race, and talking about things like different ages in the workplace, and what that means, and what the implications are. And that, I have found to be incredibly powerful.”
His suggestion to leaders or even individuals inside of organizations is to ask questions and be curious. He says we need to be vulnerable and we should always seek to improve ourselves and our cultural awareness.
As a CEO Dan sees himself as a “captain”. He says, “I’ve played competitive sports my whole life, and there’s many different ways that I see people showing up as the chief executive of an organization. The way I view it is, I’ve been bestowed a responsibility by a group of peers. And the best captains aren’t necessarily the best players. They have leadership characteristics to coalesce and make the team perform at an optimal way, but there are superstars on my team that are way better than me at a bunch of different… A bunch of different dimensions of being a consultant. And I show up as a captain, knowing that I get the privilege to lead a group of peers, but I never forget that I’m serving that group of peers, and that’s how I think of the role.”
What you will learn:
How Dan leads a team of 56,000
How to candidly talk about diversity and inclusion inside your organization
What makes a great leader
How Dan makes tough choices
Examples of how Dan has used empathy in his career
How Dan fosters an environment of inclusion with the large number of individuals on his team