The greater variety of ideas and perspectives accompanying a diverse workforce challenges and changes existing business practices and assumptions to drive innovation in an organisation’s practices, products and services.
About Innovating with Inclusion
The key to understanding the positive influence of diversity on innovation is the concept of informational diversity. Diversity increases the breadth of information available for creative problem-solving. This makes obvious sense when we talk about diversity of disciplinary backgrounds – think about the different expertise involved in building a car, for example. The same logic applies to social diversity. People who are different from one another in race, gender, culture or other social dimension bring unique knowledge, experience, and ideas that can be drawn upon when problem-solving.
Innovating for diverse consumer segments, in particular, relies on social diversity. A socially and culturally diverse workforce is better able to understand the needs and concerns of diverse customers and that understanding can be applied to broaden the appeal of existing products and services or to create new solutions for diverse groups.
However, diversity is not only about bringing different perspectives and ideas to the table. Diversity also changes the way we think. Researchers have shown that diverse groups engage in higher-quality processing of available information compared to homogenous teams. Social diversity on a team prompts individuals to apply greater cognitive effort in problem-solving.
Diversity jolts us into cognitive action in ways that homogeneity does not.