Diversity and inclusion is a key driver of growth and innovation within a company. Cognitive diversity is defined as when a group of people who think differently based on their varying life experiences, levels of education, and socio-cultural values are brought together.
Cultivating cognitive diversity in the workplace improves collaboration and enhances problem-solving skills among teams. In a study of more than 1,000 companies across 12 countries, ethnically and culturally diverse companies outperformed their counterparts in innovation and profitability by 33%.
While it is common for companies to recruit employees with similar educational backgrounds and who have experience in the exact job position they are hiring for, this limits the potential for cognitive diversity among teams. Recruiting individuals with varying educational backgrounds and work experience in different industries increases cognitive diversity, resulting in new ideas and different approaches to problem solving. This, in turn, drives innovation, attracts new talent, and promotes employee retention.
One of the key findings in a Forbes study on fostering innovation through a diverse workforce is that “…a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas.” A company culture that encourages employees to think outside of the box, challenge traditional ways of thinking, and reevaluate old processes helps promote new, innovative ideas among existing talent and increase cognitive diversity in the workforce.
To learn more about driving innovation through cognitive diversity, read these five tips for leaders here.