Why diversity is good for creativity
A few months ago, I wrote about how inclusivity and diversity affect internal comms. This was a piece about how internal comms should be tailored to ensure they are appropriate for, and appeal to, a diverse workforce. But how about the reverse? Can a diverse workforce affect the quality of our internal comms?
To answer this, we first have to think about how we respond to problems and stimuli.
The truth is: human beings are creatures of habit, and our brains have a tendency of turning to our past experiences for solutions. This is not good for creativity.
But whilst that's true for an individual, what about group mentality?
This is where the diversity of that group comes into its own. It stands to reason that a diverse team will look at things in different ways. It’s fairly obvious that they will come up with ideas from differing viewpoints. Each person’s experiences, thoughts and beliefs will affect their contributions.
Combined, this simulates the process of divergent thinking but on a larger scale. If each employee has a thought process unique to their own life experiences, then the ideas generated should be as diverse as the team itself.
Diverse groups are also more likely to make a conscious effort to abandon any bias towards ideas and suggestions. They are more likely to question their decision making and be more mindful when considering others’ contributions.
This does mean that the process may take a little longer, but the end results will be worth the extra time and effort.
To compare and contrast, think about a team or a project on which you’ve worked where all the members were very similar. Things probably flowed relatively effortlessly and quickly, but were there any real sparks of magical inspiration? Did anyone push boundaries in the name of new idea generation, or was the status quo relatively unchallenged throughout?
There is growing evidence to support the link between diversity and creativity.
This research found that companies with diverse management are more likely to introduce new product innovations than those with more homogenous leadership teams. And it’s no coincidence that some of the most successful and creative businesses in the world are at the fore when it comes to analysing their diversity and acting upon their findings. Google, for example, has recently published its 2021 Diversity Annual Report and it’s a thorough analysis of where they’re at and where they need to further improve their diversity. I'm sure most of us reading this wouldn't mind a bottom line like Google's. This is why we need to push diversity to the top line, like Google.
A word of caution, though: significantly diverse teams, as good as they are for creativity, can sometimes struggle when it comes to the equally important implementation stage. Agreements and, therefore, decision making can be adversely affected by the same differences that helped to generate those creative ideas in the first place! For this reason, you will want some logical input into the creation and implementation of your internal comms strategy, and some more practical folk leading on the implementation piece after you’ve let your more diverse teams come up with your ideas and concepts!