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COGNITIVE DIVERSITY

While discussions around equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDI&B) have been high on the agenda of human resources teams, organisational leaders and boards for some time, the importance of cognitive diversity has often been overlooked or misunderstood. While many organisations have been busy ticking the diversity box by extending opportunities to traditionally under-represented groups the underpinning rationale for this is often missed.

DIVERSITY OF THINKING

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"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it."

— THEODORE ROOSEVELT

While a datacenter business may cultivate some kudos by hiring more women, for example, getting more women into traditionally male dominated roles is not the end goal. Real value is generated from cognitive diversity – the heterogeneity of knowledge and intellectual perspectives that comes from different life experiences and socio-cognitive variables like gender, cultural background, age, nationality or even occupational expertise. Research indicates that just getting more under-represented groups into a workplace is not going to deliver the benefits of diversity unless the organisation is able to identify, understand and leverage the value of cognitive diversity and generate a culture of belonging as an antecedent to improved innovation, creativity and effective problem solving.

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So, forget the box-ticking often associated with surface-level EDI initiatives and get thinking about how systems, processes and culture can support diversity of thinking.

 

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