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Innovation Requires A Culture Of Diversity And Inclusion

Dan Bieler
Principal Analyst
April 25, 2018

Successful organizations innovate and differentiate by boosting diversity and inclusion. Diversity is too often an overused phrase and covers many facets of diversity. We think that diversity above all should be about the ability and the courage to communicate “contrarian” thoughts.

This ability and courage allows organizations to create an environment where all employees feel comfortable voicing unorthodox views and suggesting creative solutions. Diversity injects fresh ideas into a conservative and stagnant environment. New perspectives help tackle challenges and opportunities from unconventional angles. In turn, this approach boosts innovation capabilities aimed at generating new revenues from untapped target groups in different geographies and cultural settings because:

  • Diversity and inclusion go hand-in hand. Diversity blends different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives within a team. Inclusion is the result of fairness, team play, and having the confidence to speak up.
  • Diverse thinking supports cutting-edge innovation. Companies that encourage diversity of thought are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making.
  • Diversity boosts business performance. Research shows that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 33% more likely to have above-average financial returns. For gender diversity, that number is 21%.

Rigid “group think” sounds the death knell for a business in a fast-changing world. The age of the customer is changing the rules for how companies compete; without leveraging diversity and inclusion in their innovation efforts, organizations will struggle to become more customer obsessed. To succeed in the digital context, organizations must overcome tunnel vision and siloed thinking. They must build diverse teams for a diverse world. Diversity is not a nice-to-have but a business imperative.

Diversity as a key driver for innovation is not launched with a memo. Diversity is not the result of or ends with the recruitment of “diverse” individuals. Becoming a diverse company is not about filling a quota of diverse people from different backgrounds. Our new report underlines that a diverse company is about embracing a different culture. Hence, successful organizations need to develop a culture of diversity, not a diversity initiative.

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