Dr. Lisa Gonzales
Why Diversity Makes Us Smarter
In an era where politics is covering issues of diversity, and not always in a positive light, the efforts of leveling playing fields of the last decade seems to be in question. Whether immigrants being told they need to leave our country, acceptance of gays in the military, equal pay for equal work, the issues are deep seeded and emotionally charged.
How does diversity make a difference?
Most of those topics aside, to build teams that are strong, functioning and innovative, diversity is needed. Diversity can be of thought, but that diversity really begins with different perspectives, different cultures, different walks of life, and more. And despite the fact that research shows social diversity can cause discomfort, higher likelihood of interpersonal conflicts, more challenged communication, higher chances of disrespect….wait….wasn’t I trying to say that diversity has an upside?
Diversity has a huge upside. Diversity really does enhance creativity. Diversity helps change the way others think in a team, opening up thoughts to consider more options and greater options in solving problems.
Information diversity comes from different types of people teaming together for a common good, be it organizational (as in a business) or volunteer work on a project for community benefit. When different perspectives are brought together, the different information and opinions they bring strengthen their collective logic. Even diversity such as gender makes a world of difference.
Two business professors from the University of Maryland and Columbia University studies gender diversity in the top firms of a Standard & Poor’s Composite 1500 list. What did they find? Female representation in top management leads to an increase of $42 million in firm value.
Hello! Did you see that number? Imagine what that type of diversity could do in our public school organizations! Prioritizing innovation can look very different when the diversity on hand begins with gender.
But diversity also permeates thought as well. Diversity is directly correlated with better performance. If an organization or a school district values innovation and new ideas, then diversity is to be encouraged, sought out, and welcomed. Let’s face it. If we are to change, grow and innovate, we need to start with diversity.