Diversity Drives Innovation

Posted on: November 24, 2014 by Philippe Mareine

Businesses are becoming increasingly tech-led and innovation is being hailed as the fuel for Europe’s next growth spurt. The pace of innovation is dictating whether firms win or lose as they transform into digital businesses. Forward-thinking companies are recognising the importance of diversity in driving their creative and operational processes.

It might be tempting to create teams of like-minded employees, with similar ages, education and experiences, but without diversity, the team will be missing out on new ideas and efficiency. Diversity sparks innovation. By bringing together people from different cultural backgrounds, with different expertise and skill sets, age groups and gender, it will unlock different dynamics and viewpoints that are essential for creativity and innovation. While there’s a sense of satisfaction in quickly reaching a mutual consensus on decisions in like-minded teams, you will not always achieve the best outcome. Constructive conflict and challenge often leads to a more thorough development of ideas.

Why diversity drives innovation

One of the key goals for business leaders is innovation-fuelled market growth. A mixed team of baby-boomers, trend-setting millennials and digital natives from diverse nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds will provide a blend of completely different skill sets and will be able to identify and address new opportunities that others might not even see. This rings true when looking at recent research from McKinsey & Co, which found that US public companies with diversity on their board achieved a 95% higher return on equity than those without. Equally, a report from Talent Innovation found that employers that encourage diversity are 45% likelier to report market share growth and 70% more likely to capture new markets. In summary, diversity is crucial for successful boards, positively impacting board performance and also share price. It impacts not just start-ups or creative agencies but large enterprises too.

Enabling diversity in the workforce

Hiring employees from different backgrounds is one way to encourage diversity but introducing an internal social business network will further drive creativity and innovation in the workplace. A corporate social network, spanning country borders and organisational siloes, will encourage novel suggestions and compelling “outside of the box” ideas to be shared and discussed freely, unlocking the full potential of each individual. We have over 8,000 active communities on our internal social network, blueKiwi, and it’s an incredibly powerful tool for solving our clients’ business challenges and harnessing the collective mind power of over 85.000 employees at any given time.

Leaders to drive diversity

Diversity in the workplace needs to start at the top. Recent research found that certain leadership styles unlock innovation across the board. For instance, encouraging environments where everyone can be heard, making it easy for employees to speak up and propose new ideas, giving teams decision-making authority and crediting successful individuals.

A “speak-up culture” is critical to driving innovation within the workforce, and often solicits the quietest voices in the room who might previously have held back valuable insights. Empowering team members to take risks and make decisions can make them feel valued and motivated, which in turn, encourages them to work to their full potential.

Organisations that embrace diversity in the workplace will be the ones to foster a culture of innovation and creativity to develop new products and services, and better serve their customers, and ultimately, grow their top line revenues.

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About Philippe Mareine

Head of Human Resources, Logistics, Housing and Head of Siemens Global Alliance
In 2014, Philippe was appointed as Head of Group Human Resources and is now in charge of the strategic alliance between Siemens and Atos. He is Managing Director of Atos International Germany GmbH. Philippe joined Atos in 2009 as General Secretary of Atos and was appointed Executive Vice President in 2011. He was also responsible for supervising the Legal and Internal Audit functions in addition to defining Atos Corporate Responsibility strategy. Before joining Atos Origin, Philippe Mareine was deputy chief of the Inspection Générale des Finances unit at the French Treasury. From 2007 to 2008, he was responsible for human resources in the public accounts department of the French Ministry for the Finance, Public Accounts and the Civil Service. Philippe Mareine, 44, is a graduate of Ecole Polytechnique and Ecole Nationale d’ Administration, he is member of the “Inspection Générale des Finances” and a senior lecturer in political economics at Ecole Polytechnique.