The old adage ‘don’t keep all your eggs in one basket’, has been proven time and time again, particularly when it comes to diversifying investment risk. The adoption of a ‘diversity promoting’ philosophy can however be extended throughout the business and has particular relevance and advantage when applied to a culturally-rich and diverse company workforce, such as those in South Africa.
“Many businesses make the mistake of employing the same kinds of people, thinking that a specific skill set or character trait will work best in that environment. However, too many of the same kinds of people in one environment may bring stability, but it can also lead to stagnation and collapse,” says Natalie Maroun, chief strategist for LRMG Performance Agency.
Maroun believes that the diversity in South Africa creates an ideal space to come up with ground-breaking innovation and paradigm shifts.
“Diversity brought about by cultural differences is often seen as a challenge. However, diversity is actually what will guarantee survival, growth and advancement,” comments Maroun.
The positives of diversity
According to Maroun, just as we see the positives of diversity in complex natural eco-systems where organisms are healthier, more productive, more adaptable to change, and can withstand a greater variety of threats, so too is this the case within the business environment.
“In his video Wealth, Innovation and Diversity, Joel Barker mentions the devastating famine in Ireland in the mid 1800’s. The fact that there was no diversity in the potato crop meant that it was vulnerable to a single threat and was destroyed by genetic complications, leaving the nation starving and dying,” says Maroun.
However, Maroun says that unfortunately in general people are afraid to be different in a society that is based on sameness and this directly hampers innovation, growth, wealth and progress. “Instead,” she says “we should be open to gaining insights from others in order to allow space for innovation and growth in our environments.”
Overall IQ boost
A Harvard Business review clearly shows that incorporating people from different backgrounds into a group actually increases the IQ of the group.
The study shows that regardless of what the individual IQ’s of each person, as a group their collective IQ was automatically higher. What is also interesting is that having more women in a group was shown to increase the group’s overall IQ. “Probably because women are better multi-taskers and are more tolerant of others due to their natural innate ‘nurturing’ side,” comments Maroun.
“The evidence in favour of diversity is significant and with the onset of the digital age bringing about increased collaboration between cultures and countries through social media platforms such as Twitter, FaceBook, Linked-In and the like, this multi-cultural fusion will increase growth and innovation throughout the world at a rapid rate,” concludes Maroun.