Why Diversity Is Important to Innovation

diversityThere are a number of reasons why diversity should be important to businesses, both diversity of an employee base and diversity of consumers: because representation matters, because top talent often want to work for a company that values diverse voices, because a focus on diversity looks good to funders.

But the bottom line is that lack of diversity may negatively impact your innovation efforts, and emphasis on diversity is beneficial for your company. Why? The biggest reason is that innovation profits from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, which is gained by hiring and creating an organizational culture of diversity. If you have people in a room with the same experiences, you’re likely to encounter stagnant ideas.

Diversity and Crowdsourcing

This especially makes sense when you think about innovation in relation to crowdsourcing. For so long, businesses focused all of their efforts on research and development departments full of fairly homogenous employees who were assigned to “innovation.” More and more, organizations are realizing the benefit of having many diverse voices chime in on innovation, which is served by something like crowdsourcing, which moves away from the old research and development model.

Making All Voices Count

For example, with Making All Voices Count’s recent Global Innovation Challenge. The campaign was specifically designed to elicit responses from around the world, asking citizens ways that their governments could be more accountable to them. Anyone from anywhere in the world was eligible to contribute ideas. As a result, over three years, Making All Voices Count has received almost 900 ideas. Of those, they have funded 10 winning ideas, which have included a web and mobile platform that aggregates data on development projects in Ghana and a project to reduce infant mortality in Indonesia, among others. Making All Voices Count is not the only organization who has benefited from opening innovation up to a wider, more diverse pool of contributors. The Cerebral Palsy Alliance did a similar thing with their recent “Change My World in One Minute” creation.

One of the recommendations that we make for those looking to foster and encourage a diverse workforce is the abandonment of the idea that smaller groups of innovators are better. Are there still projects where smaller groups are more efficient? Of course. But the wider pool of opinions and backgrounds that you have, the more likely you are to come up with some truly creative, innovative ideas.

Click here to download a recent white paper on the importance of diversity for innovation, how to nurture a diverse workforce and create a culture where diversity thrives, and some fantastic examples of diversity aiding innovation.

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