By Kimberley Cole
As Malcolm Forbes once said, “diversity [is] the art of thinking independently together”. Each individual has a unique blend of identities, cultures and experiences that informs how they think, interpret situations and accomplish tasks. It is this diversity that helps us understand the different perspectives in the world that we live in. Similarly, modern workplaces are full of people of different genders, ethnicities, cultural and social backgrounds and levels of experiences. But how exactly does diversity help companies achieve their goals and boost their performance?
Over the past few years, more corporate leaders have been talking about a “new” kind of workplace diversity: diversity of thought. A Deloitte publication stated diversity of thought is the new frontier. The report highlights that the focus is on realizing the full potential of people by acknowledging and appreciating each person’s unique perspectives and ways of thinking. The implication of this new frontier in diversity is that leaders and organizations must let go of the idea that there is “one right way”, and instead focus on creating a learning culture where people feel accepted and comfortable about contributing ideas, and therefore, actively seek to learn from each other.
Refinitiv took a look at some of the companies that are leading the diversity of thought movement, and released its Diversity and Inclusion Index (D&I) which continues to serve as a key driver for investors and analysts seeking to identify companies that are striving to create a diverse workforce. Companies ranked high in the 2019 D&I Index included 13 pharmaceutical firms, 11 banking, investment services and insurance companies, nine telecommunications services, and seven personal and household products and services firms.
However, embracing diversity of thought does not necessarily ensure its successful application within a firm. It also requires inclusive leaders who take heed of ideas different thinkers bring to the table. Leaders should also be skilled at encouraging people to both contribute their thinking and be open to other teammates’ perspectives and ideas.
As the International Women’s Day approaches, organizations might be planning gender diversity events, the press is flashing data around women in the workforce, while industry leaders are keen on discussing how diversity increases the bottom line for companies. But have we taken a step back to ponder over if and how the global business community is becoming more supportive of women and of women’s importance in the economy?
An analysis by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) concludes there is a sure-fire way to add USD$5 trillion to the global economy and that companies around the globe are underutilizing a vast opportunity. They believe the catalyst for this push does exist today: women entrepreneurs. The analysis shows that if women and men participate equally as entrepreneurs, global GDP could rise by USD$2.5 trillion to USD$5 trillion.
Women entrepreneurship has the power to change the world and reap benefits that go beyond boosting global GDP. Tackling the gender gap in entrepreneurship, boosting the growth of women-owned enterprises and creating an open-minded atmosphere will unleash new ideas, services, and products into our markets. And ultimately, those forces may reinvent the future.
The opportunities are immense and at Lynk we can support your drive for diversity of thought with our access to 630,000 experts. Diversity of Thought begins with Lynk Elite Expert Women, learn more here.