Diversity is a word that packs a punch. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear it? Many people might assume it solely has connotations with race and gender. That diversity is limited to a multicultural team or an evenly balanced workplace of men and women. That is where diversity stops and how it is measured.
It is much more than that.
Diversity is defined as “a range of people with various racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds and various lifestyles, experiences, and interests. Having a variety of individuals and points of view represented in a department. Diversity is a group of people who are different in the same place.”
Likewise, it can mean a point of difference or the state or quality of being different or varied. The constant between the numerous meanings of the word is one similarity. Diversity equals differences. Beyond semantics, diversity in the workplace comes in many shapes, sizes, and variations as the name entails. The only similarity shared between diverse workplaces is that they are all singularly unique. There will never be a team that shares the same diversity as another. That is where creativity and by extension innovation thrive, within this uniqueness.
Innovation is “featuring new methods or introducing new ideas that are original and creative in thinking.” How does one innovate? The best and simplest way to do so is to have a novel perspective when applied to a situation or a problem. This includes bouncing ideas around to receive new perspectives on an existing idea.
Does diversity drive innovation? By these standards, it would be nearly impossible not to innovate. Innovation is exactly what diverse teams excel at.
How Diversity Increases Innovation
“Ideas aren’t created out of thin air,” said Frans Johansson the founder and CEO of The Medici Group, an organization that promotes the importance of diversity in leadership. “They are created by people, by teams of people. The more diverse the teams are…the more likely they are to draw inspiration from seemingly unrelated places.”
Diversity is always, in a word, unique. If a company invests in hiring personnel from different backgrounds including culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, educational background, expertise–as Johansson details in his article–it raises the chances of capturing lightning in a bottle. In one example, Johansson explained that the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in England experienced a high rate of errors while transferring patients from surgery to the ICU. How did it lower this dangerous margin of error?
One would think, faced with such a problem, the hospital would examine the order of operations done by other hospitals in the nearby area. After all, they face the same risk of errors, the same concerns, and a similar environment. But Great Ormond Street Hospital didn’t, and other hospitals are taking notice. Their patient transfer model didn’t even come from the field of healthcare. It was modeled after the Formula One Ferrari’s pit stop “lollipop man.”
Dr. Allan Goldman, who sought aid from Ferrari’s technical director Nigel Stepney, saw a 42% drop in errors after incorporating changes based on Ferrari’s advice. Johansson echoed this in his article “Why Diverse and Inclusive Teams Are the Engines of Innovation.” The more diverse a team is, the greater chance a game-changing idea will be decided. Even better, diverse decision-makers are less prone to ill-advised mistakes that could alienate clients. Why? The various perspectives create a better picture of the audience and world landscape, rather than a small picture a more homogenous team has.
It’s not enough to just have a diverse team. Senior management needs to foster an environment of inclusivity for diversity to flourish to its full potential. That means giving every voice the ability to be heard, creating a safe environment for staff to share novel ideas, giving team members decision-making authority, sharing the credit for success, and more. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review employees allowed to “speak up” are 3.5 times more likely “to contribute to their full innovative potential.”
If these steps are taken, diversity will continue to drive and inspire innovation amongst a company’s teams. Even, if not especially, during crises.
Can Diversity Promote Innovation During Crises? You Bet
For the same reasons diversity drives innovation, the same logic can be applied to diversity in maintaining and promoting innovation during crises. Unique perspectives offer out-of-the-box solutions that can build a more resilient supply chain. This gives companies not only more ideas but more options in the face of conflict.
This is highly pertinent during times of disruption when a business partner can make or break a company. Most diverse-owned businesses are also small businesses. This usually means they can adapt to change and navigate complex crises easier than their larger counterparts. Small, diverse suppliers often build stronger partnerships as maintaining these relationships is often key to a small business’ survival.
The same collaboration between different perspectives to create new ideas only continues in this area. Like Great Ormond Street Hospital did in the face of its crisis, human lives being at risk from transfer errors, there are always problems. The scale of these concerns doesn’t matter, as the response is almost always the same. Innovation to survive.
There is no better example of that than Andy Grove of Intel’s decision to move the company away from memory chips to microprocessors to combat a possible financial crisis. How did this decision come about? From speaking to others at different levels inside of Intel, from clients to suppliers to engineers to create a complete picture of a situation.
In the Harvard Business Review’s article “Inside Intel,” Grove “recognized the need to step outside Intel and analyze a situation from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have vested interest in the status quo.” As a result, not only did Intel survive its near destruction in the 80s it remains a tech giant to this day.
Area51 Electronics is Your Diverse Think-Tank of Innovation
Diversity isn’t just a box to checkmark on a list. Having a diverse workplace is the driving force behind success. It takes new ideas, fresh perspectives, and opportunities where none existed before to create an optimal breeding ground for innovation. Here at Area51 Electronics, diversity is just that.
Our team comes from all walks of life. Diverse teams are proven to outperform non-diverse ones by 35% and ours is no exception. Our team is continually innovating our state-of-the-art quality management system. This gives you the assurance you need to know the electronic components you receive are authentic and on time.
With so many unique perspectives, our collaborative advantage means you get everything you need in one place and access to resources you couldn’t do before. The global semiconductor shortage amid a pandemic has been hard. It’s time to start moving forward and we’re ready to help you take the proper steps. Let’s innovate and work toward a stronger future together.