Diversity: Opportunity for Creativity
When diversity is embraced it becomes the most wonderful opportunity for creativity. It is exactly the different worldviews of diversity within organizations that create the potential for innovative solutions. And we all know how important innovative ideas can be to give organizations the competitive edge in today’s cut throat business world.
Never underestimate the contribution all employees at all levels of the organization can bring to the table. Professionals and non-professionals, from the chief executive to the cleaning staff can all bring new initiatives to everyday working problems as well as enhancements to organizational visions and goals.
John Brooker tells the wonderful story of his very naive 6 year old son who once when travelling on a moving walkway answered the family question: “If the moving steps going up are called an escalator, what do you call these flat ones?” His son promptly answered: “I know, they’re called flatulators!” This is exactly the kind of original ideas that diversity can create.
Coleen Geraghty reports the following: “Thierry Devos, SDSU psychology professor, has researched social identity, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. He cited a wealth of research and documentation demonstrating that a mix of race, gender, sexual orientation, political views, disability and other diverse characteristics enrich the campus and the workplace. “I personally benefit from having diverse students in my lab,” Devos said. “They bring knowledge and sensitivities that I don’t have. Their presence can change the lens of perception for the group and lead to more creative solutions.”
How does one tap into the creativity and innovation of a diverse workforce? We have to change our view of diversity as a collective of groups of people to a view of valuing individual differences and talents in the workplace. It also entails more than just acknowledging differences but truly recognizing the value of differences.
Furthermore we need to believe in people. Everyone is an expert on something. All of us have experienced life and how to survive in all kinds of situations. Anyone can contribute something of value. Any contribution should always be respected if not necessarily accepted. This requires a culture of mutual respect at all levels of the organization.
A healthy dose of curiosity about our fellow workers should be developed, especially within diverse teams. The development of personal relations rather than group relations should be fostered. Commonalities and differences in values, beliefs and needs must be discovered, articulated and respected. We should persist in building these relations and thereby building mutual trust.
Organizations that values differences, have a culture of mutual respect and build personal relations will create trust amongst employees. This will give voice to everyone within an organization and lead to the discovery of innovative and creative thinking.