Leverage Diversity for Greater Success

From http://thefutureleadershipinitiative.wordpress.com

As Adam Vaccaro points out, diverse workplace might ultimately create better results, as some new studies suggest.

“The study, detailed by NPR, looks at the work of scientific researchers and finds that papers written by multicultural teams were cited in other research more often than those written by homogenous groups. In the world of research, citations are seen as a metric of quality.

Ethnic diversity wasn’t the only harbinger of success. The same study also found that groups with members from geographic areas-perhaps three cities in the same country-also created better papers than those with members from the same place.

“It’s a matter of looking at individual teams and making sure they’re different perspectives, different points of view, different backgrounds,” NPR’s David Greene says.

The principle isn’t an entirely new one. The idea that different perspectives result in better work has been explored from a more macro-economic perspective, as research shows that diverse cities experience more economic growth. The idea is also at play in research showing that companies with females on their boards financially outperform those that don’t (have females on their boards).

From http://www.meritor.com

People tend to think of diversity as simply demographic, a matter of color, gender, or age. However, groups can be disparate in many ways. Diversity is also based on informational differences, reflecting a person’s education and experience, as well as on values or goals that can influence what one perceives to be the mission of something as small as a single meeting or as large as a whole company.

Diversity among employees can create better performance when it comes to out-of-the-ordinary creative tasks such as product development or cracking new markets… The researchers found that informational diversity stirred constructive conflict, or debate, around the task at hand. That is, people deliberate about the best course of action.

Diversity is the crucial element for group creativity. Innovation teams tasked with creating new products or technologies or iterating existing ones need tension to produce breakthroughs, and tension comes from diverse points of view. This is the opposite of groupthink, the creativity-killing phenomenon of too much agreement and too similar perspectives that often paralyzes otherwise great teams.

From http://www.nissan-global.com

 According to McKinsey Quarterly, between 2008 and 2010, companies with more diverse top teams were also top financial performers. That’s probably no coincidence. There are many reasons companies with more diverse executive teams should outperform their peers: fielding a team of top executives with varied cultural backgrounds and life experiences can broaden a company’s strategic perspective, for example. And relentless competition for the best people should reward organizations that cast their nets beyond traditional talent pools for leadership.

Leverage Diversity for Greater Success

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Salad Bowl of Multiple Identities

“We don’t need a melting pot…, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.”

Jane Elliot

salad

“My first exposure to murder,” the Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen writes in “Identity and Violence” “occurred when I was 11.” It was 1944, a few years before the end of the British Raj and a period of widespread Hindu-Muslim riots. The victim was “a profusely bleeding unknown person suddenly stumbling through the gate to our garden, asking for help and a little water.” Rushed to the hospital by Sen’s father, the man died there of his injuries. He was Kader Mia, a Muslim day laborer knifed by Hindus. He had been asked by his wife not to go into a hostile area of then-undivided Bengal. But he had to feed his starving family, and he paid with his life.

To the young Sen, this event was not just traumatic but mystifying. How was it, Sen asks …, that “… human beings … were suddenly transformed into the ruthless Hindus and fierce Muslims…”? And how was it that Kader Mia would be seen as having only one identity — that of being Muslim — by Hindus who were, like him, out in the unprotected open because they too were starving? “For a bewildered child,” Sen remembers, “the violence of identity was extraordinarily hard to grasp.” And, he confesses, “it is not particularly easy even for a still bewildered elderly adult.”

Boy

From Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

In his book “Identity and Violence”  Amartya Sentakes aims at what he calls the ” ‘solitarist’ approach to human identity, which sees human beings as members of exactly one group.” This view, he argues, is not just morally undesirable, but descriptively wrong. Instead, Sen invokes the myriad identities within each individual. The people of the world can be classified according to many other partitions, each of which has some—often far-reaching—relevance in our lives: nationalities, locations, occupations, social status, languages, politics, and many others, including identity common to all – HUMANS. Because all of us contain multitudes, we can choose among our identities, emphasizing those we share with others rather than those we do not.

Let’s focus on our shared identities and appreciate differences for peace around the world.

Humans
From We Are Allowed to Be Human

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Was it easier for you to accept the differences between the women in the video below, once you saw their shared identity?

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