How Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Drive Business Innovation

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Business innovation is fueled by unique perspectives and new ideas. At the forefront of innovation is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Having diverse perspectives from teammates with different backgrounds ensures that your team approaches an issue from multiple angles, which can lead to faster resolutions. Diverse teams also adapt more easily to change, reach more potential customers, and provide the opportunity to make game-changing changes.

As leaders in their industry, members of Fast Company Board of Directors understand the importance of innovation and the role that diversity, equity and inclusion play in achieving it. Below, 14 of them share the most impactful ways DEI fuels innovation.

1. INCREASED CONNECTION BETWEEN PEOPLE AND BRANDS

DEI is the foundation on which the future of innovation must be built. Having diverse thinking, collective beliefs, and different experience and perspectives informs innovation for all and helps us connect brands with ALL people, not just traditional digital natives. – Steven Moy, Barbaric

2. BETTER RESULTS AND GREATER CUSTOMER BASE

If you’re trying to solve a problem for someone whose shoes you’ve never put on, you’re probably not going to hit the mark. Divergent thinking, based on human-centered design thinking that includes diversity of thought, leads to better results. We go beyond our own bubble of experience and design solutions that can meet the needs of a wider customer base or solve the problems of underserved markets. – Shannon Lucas, Catalytic Constellations

3. INNOVATION AND INSPIRATION OF NEW PLACES

A more diverse and inclusive team is more likely to draw inspiration from different places to create something new. Equity is often overlooked. Teams that operate in a fair environment, including fair compensation, are more likely to feel a sense of respect and trust. These factors create better knowledge sharing and collaboration, which fuels innovation. – Leigh Dow, Identity

4. DIFFERENT IDEAS AND THOUGHTS

Diversity is innovation. If someone doesn’t look like you, they don’t think like you, and that often means they can help you. Think differently! – Duncan Wardle, iD8 and innov8

5. CREATIVITY AND CONSCIOUSNESS

Considering different backgrounds and perspectives stimulates creativity, open-mindedness and diligent thinking when introducing something new, whether it’s a new product, service or internal process. Awareness and understanding of different viewpoints allows you to challenge the status quo, think about different possibilities, and develop new and better ideas. – Ken Thompson, AlignOrg Solutions

6. UNIQUE POINTS OF VIEW

With a diverse team, businesses can leverage unique viewpoints, perspectives, and experiences to drive their business forward. An inclusive workplace also helps organizations combat any unconscious biases that can impact recruitment, reviews and promotions. – Carl Oliveri, robin

7. ELIMINATE GROUPTHINK

The more ideas and perspectives on the table, the more creative you will be as a collective. Diversity creates stability; this ensures that decisions will not be over-indexed by groupthink or personal preferences, as you are balanced in your approach. The more diverse the room and the conversation, the greater the perspective you have. – Liza Streiff, Knopman scores financial training

8. DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO A PROBLEM

We all come from different backgrounds and therefore have different perspectives on the world around us. It’s easy to think you know what someone else has been through, but more than likely you don’t. The more people you include from different backgrounds in your creative team, the more likely you are to create something innovative because you will approach it from different angles. – Jason Hall, Five channels

9. FASTER ADAPTATION RATE

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion enables an organization to understand and pursue innovation through multiple lenses with an open mind. This growing perspective makes it possible to discover and discuss new innovations that are more constructive and open to rapid iteration or adaptation. – Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC

10. A MORE HONEST CHECKOUT

Lots of research indicates that diverse teams are more innovative (and generate higher revenue from innovation), like this recent to study. The wide variety of perspectives and experiences that people bring to the table push thinking out of the zone of “confirmation bias.” Therefore, it is imperative that leaders are adept at creating spaces where multiple voices are present. – Amaya Weddle, bandaged

11. BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF ALL CUSTOMERS

The most innovative ideas come from an empathetic understanding of customers and their problems. And the best way to understand and invent for customers is through the diverse lens of a diverse, global, and inclusive team working to apply multiple perspectives to craft a solution together. This is the kind of team that everyone should have the opportunity to be part of. – Barry Fiske, merkel

12. MORE EMPATHIOUS EMPLOYEES

DEI promotes belonging, authenticity and collaboration. Giving our employees a platform to make their voices heard with big business ensures that we embrace intersectionality and encourage empathy. By cultivating inclusion and diversity, we deliver better experiences for employees and customers, and achieve greater innovation in our business. – Jason VandeBoom, ActiveCampaign

13. REVISED MARKETING MESSAGES

DEI fuels innovation by helping companies craft great marketing messages. Marketing content that works well in one country won’t necessarily have an impact elsewhere. It’s hard to gauge the reception of your content in other cultures, but with a more diverse workforce, you’ll gain insights on how to create new messages that innovate your marketing tactics. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

14. INNOVATIVE CHANGES

Innovation is revolutionary change, and in today’s world, diversity, equity and inclusion are the definitions. As our society evolves, how we understand each other, human being to human being, is at the forefront. The more we understand the meaning of these elements, the closer we become not only to our staff but also to our customers. – Christopher Tompkins, The green light! Agency

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