Fabio Martins talks to us about diversity & the importance of caring for other people
Fabio Martins is a Partner at KPF Consulting and spent five years as the Global Vice President for Shopper and Retail at Ipsos. Fabio is a global speaker, a proud father, and a member of the board of start-up companies. We sat down with Fabio to get his thoughts on diversity in business - from the big challenges we're facing to ways that we can improve it for a better future.
What does diversity mean to you?
In my opinion, the definition of diversity and the way the world looks at it ends up being reduced to stupidity: people tend to define it as your background or your ethnicity, that is stupid. I think it’s so important to have different points of view in every situation, that is diversity. Whenever I’ve had to hire, I’ve tried to bring people in who can do things that I can’t do. The primary thing for me is finding out whether or not those people are able to improve and build on relationships. I believe that people who have the capacity to communicate and work well in a team add value. The more diverse the range of ideas, the better… As long as we can all collaborate and find a direction to work towards together.
Have you ever been part of initiatives to improve diversity?
I’ve always shied away from those. If you are shining too bright a light on it, it’s probably because you didn’t do a good job in the first place. I think we often forget the human side of business – the personal connections we build. They are not quantifiable, they are subjective. The more senior you become, the more important those connections become.
What are the biggest diversity challenges facing your industries?
Different industries attract different types of people. There’s often a certain type that becomes a salesperson and a certain type that becomes a data scientist. Breaking those moulds is important. Having different mindsets in the mix can be powerful. A problem I’ve encountered when introducing this is that we mimic our immune systems – the anomaly becomes a virus and we fight to eliminate it. It’s like the second we are exposed to a different way of thinking, there is this immunological response to suppress it. That’s why the focus on relationships is important. How we communicate, respect each other, and accept or reject other people’s ideas is something that we’re never formally taught. Some of us get that education in our upbringing, some have the lesson beaten into us by life, and others never learn it.
What would you do better to boost diversity?
I have a two-year-old son. I feel a weight of responsibility for his future. I am the point of reference for this person for the next decade. The conditions I’d like to provide for him are such that he will learn that there is no such thing as uniformity, there is only diversity. I want him to travel the world and observe that 'different' is not bad. I think from the ground up we are never really taught that. From the start of our education, there is a desire for uniformity that I don’t think is productive. We need to start caring about other people. You might sit next to someone every day, but do you know if they’re happy, what makes them tick, or what motivates them? Failure is learning. We learn from our mistakes. When we get something right, we don’t always get a sense of all the parameters or metrics for our success. However, when we get things wrong, the insight is far more tangible. If you are not prepared to let people make mistakes, then you’re not prepared to hire people who will grow or learn in their jobs.