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For decades, the construct of diversity has been studied from every angle. The research was initially driven by a need for greater diversity in organizations and institutions to ensure fairness and social justice. This continues to be a compelling reason for diversity since individuals in our society need to feel they can pursue happiness and access success regardless of their background, gender, beliefs, ethnicity, race, orientation, or handicap. In addition to social justice, diversity can lead to better decisions and better business results. This is especially true in dynamic and changing environments where previous assumptions, orthodoxies, and business models are challenged. It is worth noting that almost every major innovation that changed the course of an industry or the world, like the internet, was generated by people outside the established companies and industries.

This is largely because established companies and organizations of all types embrace one way of thinking and operating, often rejecting new ideas (and even people) that don’t fit into an established profile. This lack of diverse thinking ultimately leads to a lack of flexibility and a slow response to market conditions. From Blockbuster to Zenith, there are endless examples of companies that moved from the top of their industry to the bottom because they did not embrace and adapt to new ideas.

Diversity matters!

It is essential for organizational success within a pluralistic society.

However, greater diversity without inclusive behaviors will often create more friction and have a measurable drag on bottom and top-line business results. Studies have shown that greater diversity, or difference, in background and perspectives predictably leads to more abrasion in relationships, teams, and the workplace. Introducing greater diversity without equipping the people and culture with a framework for appreciating and leveraging diversity can have a significant drag on performance.

We have found that there are two elements needed to realize the benefits of diversity in the workplace: 

          1. An expansive definition of diversity, and
          2. An enlightened culture in which individuals are held accountable for inclusive behaviors.

1. Diversity Defined

The easiest approach to defining diversity is by measuring the presence of protected groups within an organization. Measuring the number of people representing different genders, ethnicities, races, orientations, and handicaps within an organization is meaningful. It indicates the level of access and fairness in a culture. However, simply measuring these “externals” is not a complete measure of diversity.

At its core, diversity is a difference in thinking, worldview, and perspective. People from different protected categories may or may not have different ways of thinking and operating. But suppose people do not bring differing perspectives and fresh thinking. In that case, the probability of groupthink and a compliant culture that adopts set orthodoxies and does not adapt to changing markets increases.

At its core, diversity is about elevating our awareness by challenging assumptions and embracing fresh perspectives, ideas, and approaches. Diversity of thought is necessary for continuous improvement and reinvention.

A key indicator of real diversity is if you have people in your organization who help you think differently and elevate how you approach work. Your career and the life of your organization depend upon this indicator being present in your life and work. This means hiring, supporting, and even promoting people who think differently than you do.


2. The Need for Complimentary Inclusion

Diverse perspectives need to find expression and application. This happens through reinforcing behaviors that make it safe or beneficial for anyone to share their best thinking. A culture of inclusion is based upon behaviors reinforced by training, performance systems, leadership support, formal recognition and rewards, and company communications. Below are three key leadership behaviors that we have seen create a culture of inclusion across organizations. This list can be adjusted and enhanced to fit the unique needs of a team, department, or company.


Get beyond stereotypes to surface and highlight each person’s unique characteristics.

Leverage the Thinking of Diverse Groups

Do not prejudge ideas. Instead, facilitate the exploration of new ones.

Seek Out Counter Perspectives

Actively look for people to challenge your ideas and elevate your decisions through new perspectives.

As a minority and woman-owned firm, CMP is committed to supporting diversity and helping companies realize the power of diversity through inclusion. For insight into your own predispositions in diversity and inclusion, contact us.