IT IS NOT ALL BAD: about diversity & innovation

The changing reality

​The world is changing faster than our ways of thinking. While I was raised in an almost entirely monocultural setting myself, my kids will have a different story to tell. They have travelled the world with us from Belgian to Africa, to Asia and back to Belgium.  Back in Belgium they enter public schools where in many cases diversity is a given. When using public transport in my city, diversity is all around.

Model: Chantelle Winnie              Photograph: Mary Rozzi for the Observer

While science shows that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups, we are not making good use of this opportunity.

Most of us will agree that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. Yet most of us will find it more tricky when applying the same statement to social diversity —yet the science shows that it does.
Diversity is the key to creativity. Not just diversity in your workforce, but in your social and personal life. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces us to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.
Here are 4 tips that will help you deal with diversity.

Tips & tricks

1. Recognize & welcome cultural differences:  That’s one step in the right direction to create an environment of tolerance and understanding.
2. Tackle conflict and build a common culture Learn to handle conflicts. Among diverse groups, whether of age, geography or cultural background, conflict will arise and you must become skilled in dealing with it.

3. Communicate regularly with others to unify 
Sharing thoughts, feelings and rationale will help unify people from different backgrounds. Being upfront about the situation and involving people as much as possible in decision making engenders a sense of inclusion and will ensure everyone feels part of the same team.

4. Set an example
Start with yourself! Set an example in intercultural dialogue!

By  Sarah Neirinckx

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