“The future of workplace diversity is here, and it’s not what you think. In fact, it’s how you think.” (Source: Business Insider)
In my recent blog posts, I’ve talked about diversity in race, gender and sexual orientation. However, there’s a type of diversity that many companies don’t think about: diversity of perspective or thought. Companies tend to hire people who think the same as others and encourage consensus, but studies show1 that companies fostering different ways of thinking are more successful.
“The implication of this new frontier in diversity is that leaders and organizations must let go of the idea that there is ‘one right way’ and instead focus on creating a learning culture, where people feel accepted, are comfortable contributing ideas, and actively seek to learn from each other.”2 Having diversity of thought helps improve creativity, insights and efficiency.
How can a company boost diversity of thought? According to Deloitte University Press2, the key is to hire, manage and promote differently. In the interview process, ask questions that elicit diverse opinions, which will help combat against “groupthink” in an organization. When forming the interview team, select employees from different backgrounds with various strengths to achieve balance.
Managing differently means encouraging a healthy exchange of insights, even if idea cover a vast range. Reducing hierarchy, adding group process, using employee focus groups and engaging cross-functional teams are structural changes that can assist in this process.
Some organizations use multi-day brainstorming sessions that put people of different ages, tenure, native language and departments together for creative thinking. The result is that they are able to collaborate and create something innovative and new. One example is when companies promote a manager from Facilities to a Human Resources position. Other companies offer shadow programs, enabling employees to see firsthand what is required to work in other company departments. Some organizations invite select members from related departments to join select meetings and the brainstorming can be transformative.
What are additional strategies an organization should use to promote diversity of thought?
1 – http://www.businessinsider.com/the-future-of-workplace-diversity-is-here-2013-9
2 – http://dupress.com/articles/diversitys-new-frontier/