Diversity-Is the goal people or thought?

There are numerous studies showing how companies with diversity perform better than their peers, have higher employee satisfaction, engagement, and more innovation. How do they get there? For large firms in “destination” locations, they can recruit different parts of the country, ethnic backgrounds or cultures. Because of their location and company size, they can create a very diverse company profile from the measurable characteristics of people. Because of the diversity of background, you automatically have the most important nonmeasurable “Diversity of Thought.”

So you are a small organization, maybe family run, in a “non-destination” location. How does your company achieve the same results? Many of your employees have grown up in the same communities, same schools, and churches. You share many of the same traditions and beliefs, so where can the diversity come from?

Have you the Business Owner created an environment where people are free to share their thoughts and ideas? Or do you and your managers have a bias towards the workforce? Is your workforce just cogs in your organizational process to get a product/service out the door?

Guess what those workers are your ticket to innovation through diversity of thought. What if you were to ask a couple of people to switch roles for a few of days or a week? Would they be as productive as the original employee? Not likely! How many ideas do you think can be generated to improve or eliminate processes. How engaged would they be if you followed through on implementing some of the ideas? What could you achieve by taking the risk of a couple of days? What is the risk if you do nothing? Switching roles may be a bit extreme, but I think you get the point.

As a smaller company, you can be agile and innovative at speeds the big corporations can not. It comes down to your ability to eliminate the biases you have in your business, people, customers, and yourself. You may not be diverse based on the metrics of today, however as you create a culture of open, trusting communication, the diversity of thought will thrive, and you will outperform your peers!

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