How diversity makes us smarter

By Laura Stone on June 4, 2015

As a follow-up to the meaningful dialogue about diversity and inclusion we started at our Inclusion Intensive in Atlanta recently, I want to share “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” an insightful article by Katherine W. Phillips that’s packed with data about the impact of social and informational diversity.

“The key to understanding the positive influence of diversity is the concept of informational diversity,” she writes. “When people are brought together to solve problems in groups, they bring different information, opinions and perspectives. This makes obvious sense when we talk about diversity of disciplinary backgrounds—think again of the interdisciplinary team building a car. The same logic applies to social diversity. People who are different from one another in race, gender and other dimensions bring unique information and experiences to bear on the task at hand. A male and a female engineer might have perspectives as different from one another as an engineer and a physicist—and that is a good thing.”

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For me, this paper highlights why inclusion work is so important. For one, I’m conscious that even though it takes more time for us to be mindful of differences, the results are worth the preparation. When we know that we are in a socially diverse group, our expectations change—and even though the decision-making process can be more difficult, it ultimately helps create better results. Inclusion is about being conscious of our blind spots and understanding how our bias impacts our decision-making process and day-to-day interactions. For me, leading inclusively starts with awareness–with looking at what I think and feel before I speak and take action.

What does leading inclusively mean to you? For more of our exploration on inclusive leadership, check out these blog posts by our team: What’s the most important business imperative of the 21st century? (part 1) and A culture of inclusion starts at the top.

Learn more about what it takes to build an inclusive culture in our free interactive webinar with one of our inclusion experts on June 24th.

Come see us at our next Intensive on Leading Inclusively in Chicago, on September 15-17.

And please share your thoughts with us below. We’re creating this path together.

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About Laura Stone

Laura Stone is a Vice President, Executive Coach, and Principal Consultant at Linkage where she oversees the Inclusive Leadership practice. She is an expert strategist, speaker, and top team facilitator, and has extensive experience working with leaders and leadership teams to drive bottom-line results.

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