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had a very productive conversation
with myself and WE agreed on a new
strategy for you to implement.
That is exactly what leadership and innova-
tion without diversity looks like, and while it is
evident how non-innovative this approach is, we
tend to forget that innovation efforts that only
include those who think like us are basically use-
less. Hence the need for diversity.
Let’s step outside your office —if you still
have one— and take a look at your workplace: is
your workplace composition a good reflection
of the market you want to serve today? Is your
management team diverse so they are well fitted
to understand the needs of the market you want
to serve tomorrow? There is no way around it, if
yours is an industry that relies on a local audi-
ence you are more likely to be effective at serving
this audience if your team is also your audience.
The antiquated vision of diversity that relies
on quotas doesn’t secure the diversity of thought
needed to enrich your organization and its out-
comes. In fact a percentage of employees hired
uniquely on basis of their demographic charac-
teristics doesn’t equal different ways of thinking.
More than one time I have been introduced to
a fellow latino representing the “link” with a
hispanic community in their organization even
when behind the scenes that link goes only a few
words beyond “donde esta el banio” and “otra
cerveza por favor”. By the same token, a couple of
times I had the privilege to meet individuals who
were not matching the demographics they were
serving, but whose knowledge of language and
understanding of culture made them a perfect
fit for the job. That is how diversity of thought
works: well under the skin.
So, whose job is this? Yours. If you are respon-
sible for change in your organization, this job is
yours. If you are responsible for new revenue,
this job is yours, too. And if you are responsible
for hiring and retention, this is definitely a job for
you. The right combination of factors may be dif-
ferent for each organization —gender, race, age,
culture— but the need for diversity of thought
in decision making, especially at senior levels of
your organization, is the same everywhere.
Here are five points to consider when
embracing diversity of thought in the quest for
n Check yourself: We all have biases. Rec-
ognizing how your own ideas and decisions are
made you can be better at understanding others
and their value.
n While putting together the team for your
next project, run a checklist of the voice your
key players are bringing to the table. Like in a
good choir you need the financially responsible
baritone as much as you need the futuristic and
always positive soprano.
n Avoid lifelong memberships at the decision
table: Do not bring people to the table by default,
no matter the title. Keeping an open mind on
team composition will help you keep your radar
active for new players who may be waiting for
you to engage them.
n Review your hiring practices: are you send-
ing the same people to talk to the same colleges
and job fairs? Do they represent the change you
need? Is that ad you are running reflecting your
openness to different views?
n Create systems that capture thoughts
no matter where they are coming from. A well
designed intranet can foster collaboration and
make it easier to evaluate ideas.
There is a lot of conversation in our industry
about changing culture, but in my opinion there
are not enough tasks being changed. As we in the
industry are looking for new ways of doing things,
diversity of thought is a task we can't skip.
An award-winning media manager, Edwin Ruis
oversees digital revenue generation for Swift
Communications' 30 publications and websites
with 14 sales teams in seven states. His efforts are
focused on developing strategies and integrated
marketing solutions for resort and community
markets. Reach out to him at eruis@swiftcom.
com, 970.3924483, Twitter: @edwinruis
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