Diversity Matters: Solutions offered from a diversity of perspectives drives innovation.

When decision-makers gather around the table to discuss pertinent issues with their teams such as product strategy or culture development, they’ll ideally be inviting input from their colleagues in the process. As all leaders worth their salt knows that being an informed and effective leader is about having a solid team to listen to. Ideally, in return, they provide key points of feedback about the issues so decision-makers can understand how to best move forward with an encompassing solution. As the future of business evolves, integrating diversity and inclusion into this process directly translates to a company's capacity to respond to the culturally diverse needs of a global market. In this article, we’ll cover some points of research to demonstrate just how much diversity supports a company's ability to drive innovation and increase its ability to see market growth. 

 

Before we dive in, it is worth checking out our previous series article, “Diversity Matters: Reduction of Indignities Improves Engagement and Connection” in support of your company's efforts to effectively engage a diverse group of individuals while attempting to drive innovative solutions. To truly see the benefits of diversity, authentic and inclusive leadership becomes imperative for cultivating the trust that employee engagement hinges on. Let’s cover some brief but important points from the research to see just how much of an impact diversity and inclusive leadership can have on the outcomes of innovation. 

 

  1. Innovative Solutions from a Diversity of Perspectives Only Happens When Inclusion is at the Center: 

In a Harvard Business Review on diversity and innovation, “Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion” Ripa Rashid writes that “Without inclusion, crucial connections that attract diverse talent, encourage their participation, and drive innovations that lead to business growth, won’t happen. Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” She demystifies inclusion in this process to be a mix of behaviors:

  • Team members who speak, are heard and listened to.
  • There is an environment that is safe to propose novel ideas in.
  • Team members are empowered to make decisions.
  • Reflexive feedback & advice are taken into consideration.
  • Feedback is translated into action items that resources are deployed to.
  • Credit is shared amongst team members when success is achieved.

 

We highlight these key behavioral components to point out what happens to engagement when attempting to drive innovative solutions, and inclusion isn’t at the center of the process. Rashid goes on to point out how the research showed employees who identify at least 3 of these behaviors in their leadership report at 87% with regards to feeling welcome and included in the team, 87% felt free to express ideas or opinions, and 74% reported feeling their ideas were valued and recognized. This was in contrast to respondents who didn’t identify any of these qualities in their leadership reporting at 51%, 46%, 37% respectively.  That’s a 36-50% difference in an employee’s connection and engagement with leadership and their team. So by implementing inclusive leadership communication models, you can see huge changes in culture and the degree of authenticity to which your employees show up to work and engage with.




  1. Two Dimensional Diversity increases potential market growth by 45%

Diversity is beyond the tangible & conventional markers usually ascribed, which we outlined in more detail in a previous article  “Diversity matters: How inclusion drives the benefits that diversity promises”. Another HBR “How Diversity Can Drive Innovation” discusses research that was conducted at a national level and included 1,800 professionals, 40 case studies, and various focus groups & interviews. They examined whether leadership and employees at these companies exhibited these 2 differentiated types of diversity, inherent and acquired, and correlated high percentages with market growth numbers. 

They learned that employees at companies with two-dimensional diversity in leadership particularly acquired diversity, are 45% more likely to report market share growth from the previous years, and 70% more likely to capture a new market. 

 

It’s clear how diverse leadership coupled with inclusive behaviors fosters team engagement, elevates a diversity of perspectives, listening to diversely acquired knowledge and feedback of contributors, which all play into determining a company’s capacity to innovate and generate competitive market growth.

 

With baring the above in mind, innovation comes into play through diversity, but only when there is an innovation to the diversity sitting at the decision-making table, and skilled diverse leaders who can create belonging and engagement. The perspectives of colleges are invited and heard, unique ideas welcomed, and the best of input is translated into action items. If you are looking to diversity as a solution for driving innovation at your company, it is a great moment to take notice and reflect on who is currently represented at the metaphorical table of your company decision-makers? If you notice a lack of inherent or acquired diversity and want more ideas on how to navigate how to integrate the nuances of diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, you can follow us @TheHumphreygGroup on LinkedIn, or at our website to glean more insights of how to boldly lead in a more diverse future.  



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