In last week’s post, we discussed the importance of workplace diversity and three huge benefits that come with hiring and promoting employees based on merit. This installment of our workplace diversity series will focus squarely on the first benefit we touched on last week–a diverse team creates broader perspectives through groupthink.
Each individual teammate has a unique life experience, influenced by many things, including ethnicity, gender, age, religion, family situation, hierarchical status, class, sexual orientation, physical ability, and much more. This life experience affects how people think and solve problems.
When a team (particularly on senior and executive levels but across the board) lacks diversity, the innovation-blocking, bad-decision-fueling phenomenon “groupthink” can easily take over. To help illustrate our point, we’ve curated 3 powerful quotes to consider below.
- “While homogenous groups are typically more confident in their performance, diverse groups are oftentimes more successful in completing tasks.”
This quote comes from a thorough Deloitte report titled “Diversity’s New Frontier: Diversity of Thought and the Future of the Workforce” by Anesa “Nes” Diaz-Uda, Carmen Medina, and Beth Schill.
Read: Diverse groups are often more successful and effective than homogenous ones.
Homogenous groups might be more confident, but we must ask why. In this context, does confidence necessarily come from being correct and having the best solutions? Rather, it comes from being surrounded by the reaffirmation of our own beliefs. When a lot of people who come from a similar background and think the same way get together to solve a problem, many alternative, perhaps more effective, solutions will be missed completely.
- “We found that while the vast majority of research pays no heed to the effects of homogeneity, it may play a profound—and at times negative—role in shaping group behavior. Studies show, for instance, that homogeneous groups tend to make oversimplified judgments that can result in over-confident, even objectively inaccurate, decisions.”
This quote comes from a Quartz article titled, “There’s a Case Against Diversity in the Workplace—but the Alternative is Even Scarier” written by Evan Apfelbaum, speaking of a study he completed with two other colleagues.
Read: A lack of diversity leads to groupthink, groupthink leads to poorly thought-out decisions.
Oversimplification is less likely to occur when a diverse array of perspectives are present to catch it. Without diverse perspectives at the decision-making level, poor decisions make their way through, which causes problems on all levels, often creating costly operational inefficiencies.
- “The culture in all organisations is set from the top and a bunch of A-types with low EQ simply don’t value diversity. Moreover the pattern in that organisation is self-fulfilling as A-types look to employ and promote those of their own likeness either consciously or unconsciously.”
This quote comes from an article written by Brian Bissaker on Virgin Entrepreneur titled, “Is ‘Group Think’ Stopping True Diversity Being Achieved in Business?”
Read: Homogeneity in senior and executive level management perpetuates itself, creating an environment where only certain perspectives make it to the top or are even heard and understood.
In his article, Bissaker describes the A-type (A is for alpha) as having qualities such as drive and assertiveness but also lower emotional intelligence and higher levels of hubris. We must challenge the idea that the A-type is the most appropriate type for leadership roles and begin to embrace the power of soft skills.
It feels good to be around others who think like us, but there’s a whole world of valid perspectives out there. Embracing workplace diversity helps your business grow–and helps the people who fuel it grow, too.
Contact us today to learn more about the value of diversity!
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