What matters? Diversity
Mardi Gras may be coming to an end for this year, but its message of respect, inclusion, diversity and equity is an important one to incorporate into our daily lives.
The theme of this year’s Mardi Gras is ‘What matters’, and in a careers context what matters is the diversity of connections we make throughout our lives. Success and innovation is stifled without the benefit of a diverse range of backgrounds, identities, perspectives and experiences. Working in diverse teams can also open up new opportunities to learn and grow professionally (and personally).
Need convincing? Here’s just a few of the many benefits of introducing more diversity into your career.
Quicker problem solving
Diversity means opening the workplace to new perspectives and ways to tackle issues that come up at work (or in a group assignment while you’re studying).
When trying to establish a strategy, brainstorm a project, handle a difficult client or customer – whatever it is, having multiple people with different characteristics, identities, interests and backgrounds increases the likelihood of successful problem solving, and can help you discover difficulties before they even arise.
New knowledge sources
Having a diverse team also creates an environment with wide access to a broader range of knowledge, skills, and tools.
Coming from different parts of the world, being involved in different hobbies, living in different areas, having different genders, coming from different schools or previous industries – all of these characteristics come together to help teams break new ground and succeed in new and exciting ways.
Working in these environments can also help you build your own skills and interests, increase your emotional intelligence and let you build greater communication skills. It can push you just that little bit outside of your comfort zone, and help you grow as a person (and really, who doesn’t want a little personal development every now and then?).
A diverse workplace also means a diverse personal and professional network. When everyone comes from different backgrounds, they bring with them all of the connections and friendships they made along their career journey. This means you’ve got a wider pool of people to draw from when trying to solve a problem, and can open up new opportunities for progression and relationship building.
Your network will also expand when you start striving for more diversity in the people you interact with. Rather than sticking with the same social circles or industry catch-ups, start reaching out to friends-of-friends and trying to meet new people. You never know what lessons you could learn from them, or friendships (professional or otherwise) you could forge.
New ideas and values
Creativity thrives in a diverse environment, and there’s no better way to brainstorm than with a diverse group of people who are all invested in the same outcome. For example, maybe you need to develop a social media plan for the following month – finding content has never been easier when you’ve got a colleague who grew up on Tumblr, another from overseas who heard about ‘the next best thing’ from their friend back home, and a third whose kids are obsessed with a new Netflix series you’ve never heard of.
Diversity can also help widen your value perspective, and highlight any shortcomings or potential issues in a creative process. This in turn can help your brand appeal to a wider audience by ensuring you don’t accidentally alienate a market simply because you had no one to point out that your latest photoshoot didn’t feature anyone over the age of 25 or with diverse abilities. It may seem small to some, but introducing these pillars of diversity can make or break careers in the long run.
When you ignore diversity in your career, you’re essentially cutting yourself off from an entire world of vibrant, interesting, and expansive experiences and growth motivators that could otherwise see you achieve far more than you ever thought possible. Having respect for those around you, looking for workplaces that value a culture of diversity, and striving to be an inclusive and welcoming presence in the spaces you inhabit are important values to carry forth in your career, particularly if you’re only starting out. Don’t be afraid to reach out to new people, and don’t limit yourself – life’s too short!
“Through embracing the diversity of humans beings, we will find a sure way to true happiness.” – Malcom Gladwell
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
By Mia Casey