Companies focus on diversity as it boosts value by bringing a wide range of ideas and the skills to build on them.
However, it can be difficult to create an environment where people feel safe expressing divergent opinions and not conforming with the group.
Experience and research shows that when employees feel safe, knowledge exchange is improved, new ideas flourish and diversity is embraced.
Diverse workforces and teams consistently perform better and reach targets when working in welcoming and inclusive environments.
The right focus and mind-set can help diverse groups unleash knowledge, insights and ideas.
With growing research showing that diversity can have a positive impact on all aspects of business, it is not surprising that most companies strive to have a diverse workforce.
Increasingly, companies are focused on solving complex tasks, requiring teams to combine skills and abilities to produce positive outcomes. True diversity brings a greater variety of perspectives which can lead to deeper insights and original approaches to solving problems. Innovation springs from seeing familiar problems with fresh eyes and once a new solution is identified, smart decisions and accelerated transformation follows.
It follows that companies can be more competitive if they embrace diversity.
But the reality check is that constructing teams with different skills, experiences and personalities is not always enough. Many companies have vast swathes of underutilized talent and knowledge because diversity can only flourish in environments where people are valued and feel safe in embracing the positive aspects of diversity.
The scope of knowledge exchange can be directly correlated to how safe and included people feel. Inclusive teams value and give space to differing professional skills, actively listen and consider personal feelings and are most effective in leveraging diversity.
Humans are naturally genuinely curious and seek out new experiences. When someone feels safe and valued, they can take time to reflect, rethink and change previously fixed truths. Taking on new perspectives, exploring creativeness and opening our minds and hearts changes the workplace dynamic and sets up new paths for achieving better results, making smarter decisions and happier employees.