Supervalu CEO says diversity makes teams smarter
Monday, July 25, 2011
Craig Herkert, president and CEO of
SUPERVALU, shared "Ten Business Lessons I Learned by Heart" at the
Network of Executive Women’s fifth annual NEW Executive Leaders Forum, July 21
outside Los Angeles. Two hundred senior-level executives from the consumer
products and retail industry attended the three-day conference.
SUPERVALU chief cited a recent Harvard Business Review web post, "What
Makes a Team Smarter? More Women." The study found "there was little
correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its
individual members. But, if the group includes more women, the group’s
collective intelligence rises," Herkert reported.
mattered most "wasn’t that group members were all
really smart, IQ-wise, but that they listen and respect each other," he
said. "It’s about respect, inclusion and consideration for many different
outlooks applied to a common issue."
believes it is "vitally important to be wildly aware" of customers'
ethnicities and religions and what they're shopping for. "You have to take
the time to appreciate people."
lesson was having a thick skin. As the audience laughed, he showed a web post
naming him "Worst CEO" in the food industry. He also said executives
should "cast a wide net" when recruiting talent. He said he has
gone outside the industry for new hires--like Cub Foods President Keith
Wyche--with great success.
"set the tone" as leaders, Herkert told the mostly female audience.
"You've got to make people excited about where they work. You must build
enthusiasm for your strategy, make it fun to come to work," he said.
"Show you care," he said. "Every name on the org chart is a
living, breathing person."
also believes in technology. "I wanted to see if we could use social media
to encourage how people saw our company." He started with business social
site Yammer.com. "I took it to the individual stores. I just said, 'Share
anything, but don't do anything stupid.'" Stores began posting pictures,
videos and comments.'
frees us," Herkert says animatedly. He talked about getting rid of all the
cubicles in his office, freeing up his employees to work from home when they
need to, or attending their kids' soccer games. "This isn't the
'70s," he says. "My bottom line isn't if you're in the office for
eight hours a day--it's whether you're productive inside the company."
Herkert (center) posed with members of the SUPERVALU family before his
presentation at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum 2011, July 21. Pictured from
left: Teresa Chipps, vice president, sales and marketing development, supply
chain, for the firm’s Northern Region; Sue Klug, president of the Southern
California division; Linda Johnson, vice president for diversity and inclusion,
talent acquisition; and Michelle Murphy, senior vice president for corporate HR
and labor relations.