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The Loudest Duck: Moving Beyond Diversity while Embracing Differences to Achieve Success at Work
Laura A. Liswood

Retail Price: $21.95
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Format: Hardcover, 192pp.
ISBN: 9780470485842
Publisher: Wiley
Pub. Date: November 16, 2009

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

A business fable that explains why organizations need to move beyond the old-style diversity efforts to actually benefit from difference

In today's modern workplaces with their many different types of people, cultural and personal differences can be challenges-whether you're a team-member or a business leader. Different cultures teach different values and we carry those values throughout adulthood and into the office environment. Understanding the cultural and gender viewpoints of our colleagues is a major key to healthy, conflict-free work environments.

This fable takes its name from a Chinese children's parable about how "the loudest duck gets shot." It's a parable that contrasts with the American idiom "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." Comparing the two, it's clear that different cultures teach different views, and those views often translate into distinct ways of doing business. In today's global business world, understanding each other-where we come from and what we're taught-is more important than ever.
  • A business fable that points out how the old way of approaching diversity will never work, showing us how to understand and navigate the cultural and gender differences that cause conflict in the office
  • Perfect for managers and executives faced with leadership challenges in a heterogeneous workforce and who want to make sure their organization is a true meritocracy and a level playing field for everyone
  • Ideal for anyone, at any level, who wants more tools in their toolbox to get ahead in business in a global business culture
Doing business today takes understanding and cultural intelligence. The Loudest Duck uses an entertaining story to share important lessons about why diversity efforts are bound to fail unless we really understand how we unconsciously respond to difference and how to move to beyond it.

From the Inside Flap

Diversity in the workplace is a wonderful thing—but it also challenges many of today's business leaders. For managers and team-members alike, it can be difficult to navigate in a truly diverse workplace made up of people of different cultures, races, creeds, body types, hobbies, genders, religions, styles, and sexual orientations. But understanding our cultural and social differences is a major key to a high-performing, merit-based work environment.

The Loudest Duck is a business guide that explores workplace diversity and presents new ideas for getting the most business and organizational benefit from it. In the Chinese children's parable, the loudest duck is the one that gets shot. In America, we like to say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Comparing the two, it's easy to see that our different cultures teach us different sets of values, and those values often translate into different ways of doing business that may subtly advantage one culture at work and disadvantage another.

In the global marketplace, it's more important than ever that we understand and are conscious of our differences to work together effectively. It is not enough to create Noah's Ark, bringing in two of each kind. We all bring our unconscious beliefs and personal narratives about who we are and who others are with us to work and, with diversity in place, we can no longer ignore them. Truly effective leaders can't pretend that we're all the same or that our preferences and preconceptions don't exist. The Loudest Duck offers a way to move beyond traditional diversity efforts that ignore our differences and toward modern diversity practices that embrace those differences—and profit from them.

Diverse organizations require more sophisticated leadership, conscious awareness of diversity issues, new behavioral patterns, and effective tools for reaping the benefits of true diversity. This book will help you develop the skills you need and the tools you can use to go beyond what Grandma taught you to make diversity work in your business.

More than just an enlightening tale about diversity, The Loudest Duck is a powerful resource for any manager, business owner, team leader, or employee who wants to meet the challenges of the modern heterogeneous workplace. It's not simply about accepting others—it's about ensuring a level playing field for everyone and building an organization that gets the best from all its people.


“Laura Liswood has both great theoretical and practical understanding of diversity—why it is important in organizations and why attempts to create it often fail to deliver. The Loudest Duck is essential reading for anyone who wants to maximize the effectiveness of organizations or just wants to understand why things are the way they are.”
—Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, Canada’s 19th and first female Prime Minister

“Diversity is a popular buzzword, but too many organizations treat it as window dressing. Laura Liswood explains how successful leaders learn to value diversity for the advantages it brings. This book is clearly written, savvy, and wise.”
—Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University; Author of The Powers to Lead

“The Loudest Duck is a must read for managers and leaders of multinational corporations and international organizations. It provides an insightful look and fresh approach to cultural and gender differences that must be better understood for a more effective workplace.”
—Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director, UNICEF

“Laura Liswood brilliantly shows us how to get to Diversity 2.0 and beyond. A workplace of people from different backgrounds can lead to tensions, but this book shows, with great insights and examples, how it can lead to real creativity instead. It’s an indispensable guide for managers and leaders—and also for anyone who wants to succeed in any aspect of life.”
—Walter Isaacson, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Aspen Institute

“Laura’s timing is perfect and her message is spot on. Embracing diversity creates competitive advantage. Her book should be mandatory reading for everyone in business today. In the most engaging, fun, and real way, Laura gets to the heart of the opportunity—enabling Noah’s diverse floating Ark to fly to the moon and beyond.”
—Beth Brooke, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement, Ernst & Young

“Globalized businesses are increasingly aware that diversity belongs in the boardroom, not the public relations department, so The Loudest Duck is beautifully timed. Liswood is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Best of all, she’s practical, helping ambitious employees from nondominant groups to prove their worth, and advising leaders how to transform diversity from rhetoric into an engine for innovation and growth.”
—Kevin Kelley, Chief Executive Officer, Heidrick & Struggles

“Iconoclastic and savvy, Laura Liswood’s The Loudest Duck reminds us that not all diversities in the Ark are equal: Some in the Ark are louder and they get heard most. Combining an impressive breadth of research with colorful stories from corporate life, this book is essential reading for anyone who is serious about reaping the promise of diversity at work.”
—Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Organizational Behavior, The Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning Director, INSEAD Leadership Initiative

“Brilliant! Liswood offers unique insight and fresh tools for a Diversity 2.0 world. Drawing on thinkers from Thucydides to Malcolm Gladwell, and on more than three decades of executive experience, she offers leaders ideas for building a meritocracy that will ensure corporate success.”
—Robin Gerber, Author of Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way and Barbie and Ruth

“The Loudest Duck is one of the clearest and most profoundly informative analyses of why, despite decades of effort and investment, most diversity initiatives fail to produce the promised benefits to organizations or their employees. This book goes beyond analysis and provides a new language of metaphor that captures the unexamined dynamics of dominance, unearned privilege, and unconscious bias that undermine our attempts to create truly diverse and inclusive workplaces. In her introduction Laura Liswood makes clear her goal to move us beyond Diversity 1.0. She is successful. The Loudest Duck has the potential to usher in Diversity 2.0, a new conversation and approach to changing our organizations and ourselves. It is a must reading for leaders who are serious about diversity and inclusion in their organizations.”
—David A. Thomas, H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, Author of Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America

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About the Author

Laura Liswood is a Senior Advisor and former managing director for Global Leadership and Diversity at Goldman Sachs and is Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders. She has held executive positions in the banking, cable television, and airline industries, and cofounded The White House Project.

Table of Contents

1Beware of Noah's Ark1
2The Elephant and the Mouse31
3Tell Your Grandma to Go Home49
4What's Easy for You Is Hard for Me and How to Navigate the Differences65
5Unwritten Rules99
6We Hire for Difference and Fire Because They Are Not the Same113
7The Tools in Your Toolbox135

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