Three Things from Henry Kravis on Leading Better
Every year at the BCIU Eisenhower Awards Gala, we recognize leaders who have made exceptional contributions to social responsibility, sustainability, and the growth and development of humankind. This year, we presented the 2020 Eisenhower Global Citizenship Award to Henry Kravis, Co-founder and Co-Chief Executive of KKR & Co., in recognition of his decades of work enhancing progress around the globe.
In addition to receiving the Global Citizenship Award on December 8th, Kravis sat down with Jane Fraser, CEO of Global Consumer Banking and President of Citi, to discuss his career, lessons in leadership, and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues.
Here are three lightly edited and condensed insights from Mr. Kravis:
Culture is King
According to Mr. Kravis, if he had to pick one thing that is most critical to KKR’s success he would pick their culture: “Without a doubt, the culture that we started with 44 years ago is exactly the same culture we have today, and it really is the DNA of KKR. We are a culture of one. It’s a culture of inclusion, which means everyone at the firm participates in everything we do. We set it up that way, as opposed to an eat what you kill environment, because we wanted everyone to help each other. We’ve seen that in spades during this pandemic. Our DNA and culture of inclusion has held the firm together and enabled us to move mountains.”
Your Commitment to Diversity Must Start at the Top
A favorite topic for Kravis is how businesses can demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion: “We believe strongly that you have to have diversity of talent in any organization. It’s proven that with different perspectives you enhance performance,” said Kravis. “You only get that if you get different types of people with different backgrounds. Our focus at KKR is on diversity of gender, ethnicity, and thought. More importantly, it has to start at the top. The CEO of every company has to be behind their diversity initiative, or it won’t happen.”
ESG is Core to the Future of Businesses, Workers, and Customers
According to Kravis, ESG is a critical topic of conversation around the globe: “Today, all companies must deal with a more complicated world. Geopolitical tensions, climate change, inequality and identity issues. These are all more important to workers and customers than ever before. And we’re going to see that picking up more and more into the future. ESG covers an enormous amount of ground on these issues. At KKR, we teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund, and as it turns out we’ve improved the bottom line, productivity, helped on recycling, energy efficiency, and water and forest product usage, and that’s exactly the point.”
As the world faces an urgent combination of health, economic and social crises, Mr. Kravis’ exemplary role in building businesses that care about their people and communities is a model for all of us as we look to the future. He has proven that when we lead better, the world does better. And in a time like this, BCIU is honored to recognize Henry Kravis for enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people around the world.
If you want to learn more about BCIU, visit us at our website, www.bciu.org, and sign up to participate in our programming.