It’s such a simple idea, but it is rooted in common sense and truth. Perhaps it is so simple that people have missed it. However, a significant number of leading innovative companies recognize the importance of diversity. We could start listing such companies, but that’s not the goal here.
The aim here is to establish why companies should increasingly focus on cultural diversity as a centrifuge for equality. The reason is simple – cultural diversity is the backbone of innovation. How so?
By leveling the playing field by promoting a culture that encourages ideation, effort, and collaboration, more people will come forward and step up. The key is to send out a message that all employees are equal and they all have opportunities to grow.
To illustrate the idea that diversity drives innovation, we thought we’d add some detail to our logical sequence.
Diversity promotes equality
When you have a mixture of people from different ethnic backgrounds, age groups, gender, etc., that sends out a signal across. It means; we hire anyone who can join our mission, no matter who you are or where you come from. If you are a suitable fit, you can work with us.
Equality produces opportunity
When people realize they’re equal, they know their efforts won’t be ignored. They become aware that their ideas have to be the best in order for them to get ahead. Moreover, we don’t discard ideas.
We brainstorm and build on initial ideas to see how far we can take them realistically. Oftentimes, it may take weeks or even months to finalize a robust plan. Sometimes, an idea may not appear to have potential. But as we dig deeper, and keep revisiting it, we eventually develop something to go on.
Opportunities produce ideas
When people know there are opportunities, they won’t stop at trying to do their best with the tasks or projects they are assigned. They will come up with new ideas that may or not fit with your vision. but you also need to entertain their ideas and welcome the fact that they brought something interesting to you. This will encourage them. And who knows where one idea can lead when you start refining it!
Ideas reflect intelligence
The whole idea of leveling the playing field is to create a scenario where the best ideas are brought to the forefront. You want the smartest ideas and the smartest people within your proverbial arm’s reach. And you should always want to remain approachable for this.
The people who stand out with ideas are inevitably the ones who are the most intelligent, especially if they’re willing and able to provide a deeper perspective on, not just an idea, but how it will work. That’s intelligence depth!
Intelligence produces results
When you identify someone as intelligent based on their idea and the details along with it, the ultimate proof of this lies in their ability to see it through to fruition. Anyone can come up with an idea they may have borrowed and tweaked to make it look original. But when an idea is backed up with a plan and data, that stands for something.
Results reveal leaders
When the intelligent ones fulfill ideas and ensure results, you know you have identified a leader. Sometimes, it may take more than one project for them to prove themselves. Not every leader emerges with success from the start; in fact, the probability of success, or even moderate levels of success, are rare. People who fail today are tomorrow’s leaders once success is on their side. Besides, whoever said leaders don’t fail?
Leaders drive innovation
When we talk about leaders, we do not necessarily mean the people who make the big decisions; leaders are also those who make things happen well within their own capacities but have a quiet yet magnificent impact, that often goes unnoticed and is often unquantifiable.
That junior, sitting in the corner, grinding out iteration after iteration to produce an icon that’s just right, is also a leader. Without him, you won’t get that super-cool edge over hundreds of other top-notch existing designs out there.
Yes – it comes down to a multitude of seemingly minuscule forms of output and input by an employee’s name you may struggle to remember. Yet, the overall result stands out because that guy in the corner knows he is valued, and that his work will face scrutiny, and hopefully be recognized. It is because he knows his work will count on an equal playing field, that he is willing to go way beyond that extra mile.
Sure, not every employee will put in that kind of effort, but we should all leave the doors open for the few that do, so that they are recognized.
The more we leave the doors to opportunities wide open for our people at every level, the more we discover their increased enthusiasm, ideas, and whatnot. And a dozen or so other companies have experienced the same thing. You just never know which idea will be the next big thing for your business.
So, diversity should be built into the infrastructure and spirit of what we do – to Level the playing field, offering opportunity equally, which drives innovation. In a constantly changing world, the ones that innovate and are willing to pivot, are the ones who will excel.