The importance of Diversity and Inclusion to Innovation and how this leads to Business Growth
It’s likely that you’ve heard of the terms ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ and you would almost certainly agree that they are common jargon in prestigious research papers such as the Harvard Business Review. But how often would you say you’ve seen them applied in real-life organisations? We like to talk about diversely cultured companies and inclusive management, but actually achieving these two simultaneously (as they work magically hand-in-hand), means challenging the conventional, profit-focused ways of “traditional business” and setting new paths for the unconventional, market-focused ways of “modern business”.
For organisations to survive and thrive in today’s competitive business world, diversity and inclusion are not only prerequisite company strengths but are also attraction points for potential partners, clients, employees and customers. They improve job satisfaction and company culture amongst staff, they draw elite talent pools, they are indications that the company is ethical and above all, they nurture innovation. As we know, innovation when executed well, leads to the holy grail of all corporate objectives – business growth.
What Is Diversity?
Contrary to popular belief, diversity in a workplace is more than race and ethnicity. It is the composition of employees whose characteristics vary in religion, political beliefs, age, education, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and geographic location (Brookins, 2017). Embracing diversity is the understanding that talent can manifest in all kinds of prospective candidates and more often than not, the most unorthodox hires are the best investments for companies wanting to inspire innovation (Finkelstein, 2017). By having a variety of diverse perspectives of what the future may hold for your organisation and allowing the best ideas to collide, is one of the easiest ways to cultivate innovation and business growth. Without diversity, the ideas pool is limited.
What Is Inclusive Management?
When hiring staff, traditional managers often fail to see the difference between experience/credentials and innate talent. Inclusive managers on the other hand, do. Inclusive managers understand that experience and credentials are more often markers of privilege and aren’t necessarily a guarantee for a talented worker with the skills required for innovation. Inclusive managers embrace diversity and will often group employees with contrasting opinions and ideas to stimulate discussion and challenge comfort zones. Without inclusive management, the potential to optimise innovation to its full potential is narrow.
What Is Innovation?
Innovation is synonymous with success, business longevity and risk-taking. It’s the careful application of information, imagination and initiative to form a greater or different value to the consumer than what is currently presented through the organisation’s current products or services as well as their competitors. It ultimately forms a ‘creative solution’ to business challenges such as unmet consumer needs or expansion into new markets and involves complex skills like lateral thinking. If a company is consistently meeting the needs of their target audience and offering a product or service that is competitive with the market, business growth is inevitable.
Innovation can be broken down into the following broader categories:
- Evolutionary Innovation (also known as continuous or dynamic innovation) – This innovation is normally the result of incremental advances in technology or processes. For example, a buy online feature on a company’s current website. These innovations should be constant as the company evolves and adapts to the contingencies of its environment.
- Revolutionary Innovation (also known as discontinuous innovation) – This innovation is disruptive to the market (WebFinance Inc., 2017). For example, the design of SCR Group’s newest Clothing Drop-Off Hub. The latest design represents a significant shift from the traditional metal clothing bins, with a focus on aesthetics and technology and is the first of its kind in Australia. They offer additional features such as advertising space and are suitable for indoor areas. This revolution of design was based not on a demand, but a response to the evolving attitudes towards the industry and behaviours around it.
One of the primary and most powerful benefits of innovation, is its contribution to business growth, economically and culturally. Innovation leads to higher economic productivity and creates buzz and excitement not just for the consumer or your clients, but internally amongst staff – especially if they were part of this process. By having returning customers, your company is seen as pioneering in its industry, and work culture being optimised, you are satisfying the needs of all your stakeholders. As a result, these actions will inherently attract more exceptional talent which will be the catalyst to continued growth.
To learn more about SCR Group’s latest innovation Clothing Drop-Off Hub and how your company can host one, contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brookins, M. (2017). Define Diversity in the Workplace. Retrieved from Small Business: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/define-diversity-workplace-4926.html
Finkelstein, S. (2017, 07 4). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from 4 Ways Managers Can Be More Inclusive: https://hbr.org/2017/07/4-ways-managers-can-be-more-inclusive
WebFinance Inc. (2017). Business Dictionary. Retrieved from Innovation: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/innovation.html