Making a deliberate effort to focus on diversity at your organization can be a powerful recipe for more creative thinking. By opening the door to new perspectives, your team members will consider other points of view and increase their empathy—leading to new solutions that wouldn’t have previously occurred to them.
This has a direct impact on your company’s ability to produce innovative solutions: A recent study from Boston Consulting Group found that companies with above-average diversity scores on their leadership teams generated 45% of their revenue from innovative products (referring to those launched within the past three years), while companies with below-average diversity only generated 26% of their revenue from innovative products.
The more diverse and innovative companies, not surprisingly, also saw higher overall revenues: Their margins were 9% higher than their less-diverse competitors.
So how can you improve diversity within your organization?
Of course, the first step is building it into your recruiting practice. Your recruiting team should be making a deliberate effort to market your career opportunities to a broad audience of universities, job fairs, training programs, and community organizations where you’ll be able to reach a diverse population of jobseekers. They should focus on minimum benchmarks for increasing the number of diverse candidates based on criteria including gender, veteran status, disabilities, LGBT identifiers, and people of color on their teams, and consider dedicated training programs to provide additional opportunities for underrepresented populations.
However, even after you’ve increased diversity on your teams, it’s important to provide tools for ongoing learning and open communication. To make the most of the advantages of building a diverse workforce, you need to provide access to a knowledge-sharing platform that employees can use for cross-team and cross-departmental collaboration.
By using a platform where employees can freely ask questions and provide feedback based on their own unique experiences and perspectives, you can foster true diversity of thinking within the workplace. Employees will see their assumptions challenged, and learn about problems that they hadn’t considered before. Teams can work together to use both existing knowledge and new perspectives to build new solutions for innovative products and services that your company can bring to market.
Diversity is crucial for growing innovative companies—but to truly make the most of your team, make sure that they have the right tools in place to help them collaborate and share knowledge effectively. With both elements in place, you’ll be able to both improve existing products and quickly generate new ideas for innovative solutions.