Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.
It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way—yet the science shows that it does. This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information, but also because interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.
Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working.
Excerpted from “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” by Katherine W. Phillips, Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics and Senior Vice Dean at Columbia Business School. Read Full Article