How Being Anti DEI Blocks Innovation By Alienating Both Gifted Talent (Star Doctors, Engineers, Managers) & Young People

Sherri Douville
5 min readJan 16, 2023

On MLK day, I want to talk about what the “woke-anti-woke” debate in SV gets wrong. Do you need gifted talent? How about young talent? If you require neither gifted innovative talent nor young talent, then you can ignore this article. Though if you do require innovation and innovative talent or young talent; then this read is essential. These two segments of the population require an authentic leadership response to fairness and diversity. This blows up the anti woke movement. So what, you ask?

If you need innovation, you require gifted talent whether they are your problem finding and solving vendors, physician leaders, star engineers, super lawyers, finance whizzes; any mega professionals who are innovating and solving are all likely to be gifted, even profoundly so. They bring with them capabilities for today’s three greatest leadership requirements: compassion, depolarization, and holding paradox. What they don’t have is patience for bias. On MLK day, we’re obligated to explore the requirements of the gifted members of the workforce as well as what motivates young people.

If you are a CEO or board director, I encourage you to lead by example. What are your diverse OKRs? Do you hold yourself accountable to performing and hitting them? There is no sense in making statements or having diversity policies unless you are leading by personal example. Otherwise, you risk alienating stakeholders on account of inauthenticity. I am continuing to multiply my strategy of driving my own personal OKRs and if a template can be helpful, find it here:

But back to who your greatest high potential leaders are and what they bring to the table:

1) Compassion: For instance, the gifted are often found to have high empathy. (Ogurlu et al, 2021) As a consequence, they have a drive for justice which bears lower tolerance for bias and ignorance from leadership that manifests in discrimination.

2) Depolarization: cue the gifted person’s obsession with fine details. “highly depolarizing people tend to be connoisseurs of the specific.” Rated high facts, right-center bias on

Further, those details required to effect depolarization can be commanded quickly as it has been reported that gifted individuals have rapid information processing and information consolidation (Vandervert, 2009).

“Giftedness is a difference in the wiring of the brain. We are continuing to learn more about how this looks from the perspective of neuroscience and physiology. Efficiency, connectivity, regional brain volume, superstimulability, oversized emotions — all of these comprise the gifted brain.”

3) Holding paradox: “Abstract thinking allows one to see connections between seemingly divergent aspects of life, to solve problems in more creative ways (thinking “outside of the box”). Without the ability to think abstractly, people generally have difficulty making conceptual decisions, moral judgments or solving complex problems.”

“Meta-thinking tends toward seeing everything in terms of metaphors, analogies, paradoxes and puzzles to be resolved by eventual abstraction.”

In summarizing gifted talent; this is if you work in medical technology you require being able to attract and retain them. They won’t respect or likely tolerate shallow biases. So you have to decide what’s best for your business.

Image credit: AACSB

What about young people?

“By the year 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials — which means this group will occupy the majority of leadership roles over the coming decade.” “If businesses are looking to hire and sustain a millennial workforce, diversity must be a key part of the company culture.”

The question is, do gifted or young talent want to work with you and your teams?

Image credit: Team Red Dog

What About Healthcare?

Going deeper into healthcare, even conservative “royalty” leaders like Senator Bill Frist, the late Senator Orrin Hatch, etc in healthcare are and were deeply humanitarian so this is a very different game than for example, the tech sector. There you have likely larger part of the population which has a lower value of sanctity of life. This is not a judgment. This is saying, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. There is no more pro DEI industry, despite the presence of a long multi generational legacy of conservative “royalty” than in healthcare; if you want to play in this industry, then you have to grasp why and do as the Romans are.

In chapter 4 of the Advanced Health Technology book, the co authors argue that diversity, in its many forms (e.g., age, race, education, profession, gender, and ethnicity), enriches our experiences and helps us to evolve as social animals. DEI has been a foundational element associated with successfully deployed innovative solutions. DEI is also strongly considered when potential employees are evaluating a prospective organization. Additionally, many individuals leave organizations because behaviors, actions, and practices do not reflect that an organization has truly embraced DEI as a recurring theme throughout all elements of the organization. Consequently, organizations will have a short life expectancy if they fail to recognize the need for creating an environment that embraces a DEI model.” (Harding et al. 2023) We provide frameworks and tips for you to plan and operationalize your personal ally strategy.

The bottom line if you work in medical technology is that your business lives or dies by gifted talent: the superstar doctors, engineers, lawyers, and the gifted businesspeople as well as your future depending upon young people. Those that the former are willing to respect and partner with will be similarly gifted and they all will require innovation and diversity competence. Use these resources and references as your ammunition when faced with regressive and outdated forces.

Harding, Ng, Partridge, Douville “Allyship in Reducing Medical Technology Risk: Why Partnerships are Vital to Your Professional Success.” In: Douville, S. (Ed.). (2023). Advanced Health Technology: Managing Risk While Tackling Barriers to Rapid Acceleration (1st ed.). Productivity Press.

Uzeyir Ogurlu, A meta-analytic review of emotional intelligence in gifted individuals: A multilevel analysis, Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 171, 2021,110503, ISSN 0191–8869,

Vandervert, L. R. (2009). The appearance of the child prodigy 10,000 years ago: an evolutionary and developmental explanation. The Journal of Mind and Behavior. 30(1). 15–32.

By Sherri Douville, CEO at Medigram, the Mobile Medicine company. Recognized in 8 categories of top CEOs by Board Room Media (Across SMS, mHealth, iOS, IT, Database, Big Data, Android, Healthcare). Top ranked medical market executive worldwide and #1 ranked in mobile technology categories (mhealth, iOS, Android), #1–2 (on any given day) for the cybersecurity market in the U.S. on Crunchbase. Best selling editor/author, Mobile Medicine: Overcoming People, Culture, and Governance & Advanced Health Technology: Managing Risk While Tackling Barriers to Rapid Acceleration, Taylor & Francis; Series Editor for Trustworthy Technology & Innovation + Trustworthy Technology & Innovation in Healthcare.