Diversity and Inclusion: Obligation or Competitive Business Strategy?

Diversity and inclusion are principles which enrich our lives.  But, as I recently told a colleague, diversity is much more than a mere concept or set of obligations.

More than 60% of the people entering today’s workforce are what we term “diverse”.  That is, they are people of colour and / or women with diverse ethnic, ancestry, religious,  social, economic, and other backgrounds.

An employee’s diverse background largely frames that employee’s perspective on authority, communication and decision making styles, gender roles, responsibility, assertiveness and other traits that deeply affect and determine the success of how employees work together and ultimately the success of the organization.

Business analysts and leaders agree that, when harnessed and managed properly, diversity and inclusion in the workplace contribute to higher levels of creativity, productivity and- ultimately- the prosperity of an organization.  As I recently told that business colleague, diversity and inclusion programs are competitive business strategies.

Consider this example: three teams of 10 people are tasked with problem solving and idea generating.

Team 1:  Ten members have similar social, educational and ethnic background.

Team 2:  All ten members are socially, educationally and ethnically diverse.

Team 3:  All ten members are socially, educationally and ethnically diverse and have been trained on how these differences affect decision making and communication styles.

It is well documented that in the beginning Team 1 will outperform Teams 2 and 3.  Team 2 will be chaotic.  And Team 3 will generate few ideas or solve few problems in the short term.

Over a relatively short time, however, Team 1 will be stagnant.  While it is comfortable to work with like-minded people, homogeneous teams become stagnant fast.  Team 2 will continue to be chaotic.  The longer-term winner will be Team 3.  Team 3 members, who have been educated on their differences, will capitalize on their differences;  they will learn what they each have to offer and how to blend their different approaches to fill any performance gaps.  The fact is that Team 3 will out-perform Team 1 over time by more than 50%.

And that, my friends, is a competitive business advantage.

If you would like to have more information on our upcoming Diversity workshops, please complete the following form.

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