On 6 May 2004, the FBI arrested US attorney Brandon Mayfield alleging he had helped to bomb four commuter trains in Madrid, leaving nearly 200 people dead and 1,400 injured. The FBI claimed it had found Mayfield’s fingerprint on a bag of detonators connected to the bombing. Two weeks after his arrest for terrorism, the Spanish National Police matched the same fingerprint to the real holder of the detonator bag, Ouhnane Daoud, an Algerian national. In a media storm of condemnation and controversy, the FBI was forced to release Mayfield from custody, and the U.S. Government ended up paying USD $2million in compensation.

The false fingerprint match, which the FBI confirmed ‘100% verified’ was a monumental error that continues to dog the agency a decade on. How could this happen in an organisation with myriad processes to prevent false identifications? And could it happen in your business?

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Without deliberate attention to confirmation bias, there is a clear risk that decisions will be flawed.

The financial services sector has not been far from the front page of most major newspapers since the Global Financial Crisis. Recent headlines include revelations about alleged misconduct by several of the large banks around the world, leading to calls for increased regulatory scrutiny. Incoming Financial Conduct Authority chief Andrew Bailey recently commented that the culture in the banking sector had “laid the ground for bad outcomes… where management are so convinced of their rightness they hurtle for the cliff without questioning the direction of the travel”.[1] From an Australian perspective, ANZ’s Andrew Cornell argues, “such conduct and culture issues being raised are not exclusive to the Australian banking scene, [and in some respects] reflect how Australia is catching up with the rest of the world”.[2]

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When did we start to believe it was highly efficient and productive to run short back-to-back meetings every 30 minutes for 8 hours a day? Or very long meetings crammed full of agenda items? Or meetings starting and finishing in the wee hours? When did we start to believe that humans are machines operating on an inexhaustible supply of energy?

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For leaders making complex decisions, cognitive depletion is a real problem

Foundational shifts in the diversity of markets, customers, ideas and talent have led to a new capability vital to the way one leads: inclusive leadership.

Building on previous research undertaken in 2015, Dillon and Bourke found that inclusive leadership was the factor that made the biggest difference to creating success in the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world of business[1].

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The fifteen elements drill down to what leaders think about and what leaders do when they display the six signature traits of inclusive leadership.

What defines high performing teams?  It’s a given that teams must execute the tasks they have been assigned both efficiently and ably – but really that’s just performance.  Following this logic, high performance could be defined as extreme levels of efficiency and faultless execution.  But could high performance refer to something qualitatively different?

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It turns out that people in a high performing team make 5 signature moves when talking to others.

Researchers have identified the role that egoism plays in corrupting the thoughts and actions of moral leaders. The consequences of unethical leadership are severe and highly publicised. Is a call for authentic leadership the solution? What if a leader is authentically immoral?

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How can organisations recruit, select and develop ethically-resilient leaders?

In her book, “Which two heads are better than one? How diverse teams create breakthrough ideas and make smarter decisions”, Deloitte Partner and author Juliet Bourke draws on academic literature and applied research to explore why diversity of thinking adds value. In doing so, she finds some surprising results on gender equality…

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Bourke argues that the overlooked and more indirect value of gender balance provides a compelling reason for organisations to accelerate their inclusion efforts.

As Australian of the Year in 2016, Chair of the Diversity Council of Australia and Deloitte special advisor on leadership to the CEO, David Morrison AO has been recognised time and again for his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion. In his former role as Australian Chief of Army, David hit the spotlight in 2013 when his video went viral ordering troops to ‘get out’ of the Army if they couldn’t accept women as equals, clearly demonstrating his personal courage and passion for equality. The cultural shift within the Army since the video aired has been significant, including a greater focus on diversity and inclusion and a 2% rise in the number of women joining the Army. Two percent may seem small but is significant in actual terms: An addition of 700 women to a workforce of 34,000 in 3 years.

Tuesday March 8th is International Women’s Day: a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.  We recently spoke to David to find out more about what International Women’s Day means to him.

David’s insights focussed on storytelling. He challenged us to think about whether the stories we tell subtly support or undermine equity. Not one to shy from controversy, David also shared his views on pay equity and quotas. Finally, David puts his weight behind the shift to diversity of thinking, noting the relationship between gender-balanced teams and high performance.

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When we talk about #PledgeForParity a very good place to start would be for employers to look at what they pay men and women in their organisation, and work towards parity.