Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald oversees one of the most valuable travel companies in the world.
He’s also one of the few people of color in a leadership role at a major travel brand.
Skift recently spoke with Donald about a wide range of issues from operations to fair wages to negotiating airfare on a mammoth scale.
Note: This is an excerpt from The Versus Issue, the second print magazine from Skift.
But we also discussed what the industry needs to do to make sure its executive ranks are as diverse in the United States as the destinations that they visit. Below are direct quotes from Donald, who laid out a compelling business case for embracing diversity that is far more sophisticated than many travel brands can claim.
What Donald said:
“Here’s the deal: Businesses sustain success over time through one common feature. It’s called innovation. You have to innovate.
“If you do not innovate over time you will be displaced or become obsolete. You have to innovate. Innovation by definition means thinking outside the box.
“If you want diversity of thinking, having diverse workers and diverse leadership and diverse management doesn’t guarantee diversity of thinking, but you have a far greater probability of it if you have diversity in your ranks than if you don’t. It is a business imperative. What anybody needs to do if they want diversity is they have to proactively intervene to create that diversity because human beings naturally cluster. It’s our nature.
“You have to be proactive in your intervention to engineer the diversity. In our case a lot of it happened naturally because we go to so many places in the world and we recruit from so many different places for our ship board personnel as well as our shore side personnel. At the top we have to force that inclusion and that focus on diversity.
“We now have four women presidents of our brands. We have an LGBT president of a brand. We have an African-American who’s the president of a brand. My security officer is African-American. My general counselor is Hispanic.
“You want your team very diverse, so as they’re working together they’re bringing all those different perspectives.
“That’s been my personal experience in all the different business and not-for-profits that I’ve worked in. I’ve had some significant breakthroughs personally in engineering teams that way and continue to do so here at Carnival. That’s the spiel. You’ve got to proactively intervene, you have to think about diversity broadly, and you have to think about diversity in the basic concept, too, of just getting people who really are. They look different. They grew up different from each other and all that. They speak differently. You need that.”