The accelerated pace of change, influenced by rapid advances in technology, is forcing businesses to innovate business models, operating processes, talent acquisition and retention strategies, and customer experience–on almost every level.
Recognizing innovation occurs at the nexus of disparate ideas coming together in completely new ways, why would we exclude anyone from participating? It’s time to advance the role of diversity as an imperative in today’s dynamic business environment, not simply allow it to be an act of compliance.
We all see the world through different lenses–lenses that are shaped by our life experiences, our values, the places we’ve been, the people we’ve known, the traditions we respect, and much more. Diversity is far broader than the predictable categorizations we use, such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, religious, or political beliefs. Although these elements can often be used as proxies for the different experiences that contribute to diverse perspectives, we are each unique individuals with our own thoughts, perspectives, and ways of solving problems.
The more lenses through which we examine a problem, the more chances we have to discover a truly novel solution. Today, on International Women’s Day, it’s especially important to recognize, in particular, the perspective women can offer–and how much this perspective is still missing from the corporate innovation process. I and many others have examined why women have been excluded from participating in innovation, asking whether there’s an untapped market for reinventing the future. We need their point of view–their lens on the world. How can we do our part in helping organizations be more successful by encouraging diversity at all levels and including women’s perspectives, in particular?
- Power the pipeline: With technology as an accelerator to innovation, we must empower young women to break stereotypes and pursue STEM fields. This includes prioritizing access and exposure to STEM opportunities for female students, and neutralizing marketing and media messages that lionize male techie “geek heroes,” alienating girls in the process.
- Cast the dream team: To compete effectively as managers, we must make a conscious effort to assemble diverse teams. This isn’t about hitting a quota; it’s about achieving success. We need to look past our own blind spots to find a mix of capabilities in fertile pools of talent. Personally, I look for strong problem solvers who approach challenges from nontraditional angles.
- Mentor in the moment: As today’s leaders we have the opportunity–if not the obligation–to serve as role models for the next generation. This means providing meaningful advice, serving as sounding boards for young professionals and urging up-and-coming leaders to focus on personal development. Remember this trademarked quote from Geena Davis: “If she can see it, she can be it.” Let them see it in you!
Diversity is not a compliance exercise. It’s a strategic imperative for any business to survive and ultimately thrive.
Join us for a panel at Adobe Summit, co-sponsored by PwC and Adobe, featuring leaders across a variety of disciplines as they discuss their unique approaches to foster and source innovation, cultivate leaders with an innovation mindset, and build a sustainable culture of innovation in an increasingly global environment.
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