Does Diversity Really Make Companies More Creative?

Diversity in WorkplaceRocío Lorenzo is trying to change the face of leadership. In her TED Talk, “How Diversity Makes Teams More Innovative,” Lorenzo reveals that the concept of more diverse teams being more creative isn’t just a notion. It’s a scientifically sound statement that she and her team at the Technical University of Munich studied and found true.

You may accept the idea that a workforce can benefit from being more diverse, but for many in the top tiers of company management, this blanket statement can come with skepticism. Lorenzo and her team felt the same way when beginning their research, and all saw finding nothing at all in their research to be a very real possibility. However, her team’s results, along with dozens of studies done since, have all come to the same general consensus: an astounding, “yes,” to the answer of diversity aiding creativity in the workplace.

Does All Workplace Diversity Look the Same?

While the simple answer to the question, “Are diverse companies more creative?” is a quick “yes,” it’s important to understand that workplace diversity wears many hats. When you think of the phrase, “diversity in the workplace,” the image that most likely comes to mind is a boardroom full of different racial or ethnic backgrounds, and a meeting table that equally represents men and women. However, diversity in the workplace is represented by so much more than race and gender, and it’s important to think more broadly about the term “diversity” when committing to creating more dynamic work groups. The age, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, education level, and even life experience of a group are all part of diversity in the workplace. Interestingly enough, uncovering a team’s deep-level diversity, or, the less observable attributes like personality, attitudes, and beliefs, has been key in producing more creative workplace groups.

Diversity & Leadership

Looking at diversity in more broad terms is a fundamental part of any leadership role in the workplace. Of course, effective management on any team is important, but creating a more diverse lineup may lead you to switch up your management style to accommodate the changes that come with it. Supporting diversity in the workplace is much more than simply creating diverse teams. Forbes suggests that leaders listen and understand to discrimination complaints, educate themselves on unconscious biases, and most importantly, assume that you’ll have to educate the majority  on what diversity in the workplace means for your team. Any internal conflicts that arise from a more diverse—and, of course, creative—team can absolutely be alleviated with effective leadership from up top.

Avoiding Compliance is Key

Lorenzo mentioned in her TED Talk that there are two decisions that are taken every single day, in every organization, that can have the greatest impact on diversity and creativity: who to hire, and who to develop and promote. These two decisions mold your company the most, and send a powerful signal to change the chain of command. Complying in the workplace and adding more diverse employees to a team simply to check off a box is not the way to create a more innovative team. Lorenzo stated plainly that, “…by embracing diversity, by embracing diverse talent, we are providing true opportunity to everyone.”