I absolutely loved yesterday’s monkey writing experiment and I just wanted to write a quick note about my observations from the day. First of all, I want to thank the 7 other bloggers that wrote fantastic articles. Each article was utterly unique and very enjoyable to read. No 2 stories were alike and I find this observation a great example for today’s post.
I used to be one of the hub leaders of the women’s network at my company, so I have gotten involved on the topic before.
For those of you who read the monkey carnival, it was the perfect example of how diversity can lead to more ideas. The bloggers who wrote the articles came from different walks of life. This meant they had different experiences to build ideas off of, but also had unique observations on those experiences. For example, two people visiting a gorilla at a zoo can walk away with 2 totally different impressions of it.
Now, if I’m at a company trying to form a team to solve a big problem or innovate the next product, you better believe that I want as diverse a team as possible. Here are the benefits as I see them:
- More diversity = more ideas = more potential solutions.
- Many companies are global and it’s important to understand the different cultural impacts of decisions.
- People feel more empowered in a diverse workplace. As an employee, you’re more likely to feel like you’re opinion is important regardless of your race, color, gender, age, political, religion, or sexual orientation.
- Some studies have shown lower turnover and absenteeism rates.
- You’re less likely to be sued for discrimination.
- You are more likely to qualify for government contracts.
I’m sure I’m missing some, and please chime in on the ones that I have omitted. Now, I can see some folks reading this and saying, hiring a diverse candidate just for the sake of diversity is wrong. You should hire the best candidate for the job. To this point, I agree, but all things being equal, I do think that a diverse person (relative to your organizational landscape) will bring a unique perspective to the role and that’s worth something.
You know, I once heard a story that way back in the model T days, Ford had a university degree type training program for engineers (sorry I can’t find the reference, so I’m not 100% positive of this). To make a long story short, they were pumping out engineers who all had the same instruction manual on how to engineer and invent things. It wasn’t long before the whole company was running around with a bunch of guys with pocket protectors, the same button down blue shirt and all preaching from the same Ford manual. When everyone’s drinking the company kool-aid, original thinking and creativity gets lost and innovation stalls. You can see from Ford history that they lost major market share because they stayed with the same design too long and this may be one reason why. Someone eventually realized that the program wasn’t going as planned and they started recruiting from a variety of universities again. Thumbs up to original thinking.
And for all you white males out there, there’s even a case for you too. How many people have been turned away from a job just because they haven’t come from the exact industry they were applying for, or maybe you are trying to make a career change. My definition of diversity is very broad. In this economy, people often want someone that fits 100% of the requirements. Perhaps experience from a different industry or field can help bring a fresh perspective to a role.
What do you think? Do you have an experience you want to share, either positive or negative? If you’ve worked at more than one company that was clearly more diverse, did you indeed feel more empowered?