With the everchanging US labor market demographics, incumbent with a very hot job market consisting of employees and job candidates from a plethora of cultures and backgrounds – the demand for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) strategies, programs and processes is high. Simply stated, diversity is the representation of different people within an organization. Equity is making sure all individuals have equal access to the organization’s opportunities and rewards. And inclusion involves creating a work environment where all employees are accepted, respected, and have a sense of belonging. The benefits of having a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace include better employee retention, recruitment of more diversified talent, higher revenue growth, and enhancement of broad and creative thought processes.
Diversity, however, goes beyond the surface of how someone may look or their belonging to legally protected groups. Deloitte, a leader in professional services and consulting, recently published insights on the “Diversity of Thought”, which goes against some traditional ideas we may have had on having individuals assimilate into a work culture. According to Deloitte, “our neural makeup and lived experiences” results in different people thinking differently to solve problems, which is critical to success for an organization. This Diversity of Thought guards against group think and expert overconfidence; increases the amount and timeliness of new insights; and helps an organization identify which employees are best at solving pressing problems.
Here are three ways to increase cognitive diversity, or diversity of thought, in the workplace:
- Hire Differently – Examine your candidates in a different way. Someone who you think may not fit into the workplace or may have answered your interview questions differently, may be a quality diverse hire for your organization.
- Manage Differently – Instead of striving for group consensus to reach an optimal solution, managers will need to manage the discomfort that comes from different perspectives. Encouraging different viewpoints can enhance creativity & productivity.
- Promote Differently – Finding new ways to reward, retain, and advance cognitively diverse employees is also important. Implementing mentoring programs for individuals with Diversity of Thought in mind is a way to provide focus.
Although there continues to be a need to focus on underrepresented or marginalized populations in an organization’s DEI efforts, organizations should also consider inclusive leadership that values different styles of thinking, perspectives, and ideas. Job seekers are looking for organizations that value their ideas and perspectives, in addition to their skills and experience. Organizations that have the ability to encourage, facilitate, and manage individuals who look at challenges with different thinking styles is another dimension of diversity that can provide competitive advantages.