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How to achieve better diversity in the workforce

If you assumed that this was yet another piece about gender and racial inequality in the workplace then please read on.

Don’t get me wrong neither is acceptable in any form and they both need to be stamped out. Maybe we can consider this in a different way.

When someone says diversity what do you think of ? Race, gender, religion ? Diversity these days means so much more, especially for the rising workforce of millennials. Now stick with us, we can see the eye rolling at the mere mention of millennials.

It is a fact that by 2025 millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce so we need an understanding of their perspective on things. Let’s not delve into the unhealthy (or is it ?) obsession with social media but millennials are often cited as being more self-assured than past generations, they also have a strong sense of civic responsibility, a healthy work life balance and socially liberal views.

Maybe a more rewarding and healthy approach than the one adopted by those of us over the age of 35 ? Time will tell.

So, what does this mean for diversity of thinking in the workforce now and in the future?

Millennials define diversity as a blending of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives – scientists are calling this cognitive diversity.  Cognitive diversity is defined as the differences in our thought and problem-solving processes. How powerful to be able to see a problem or develop an idea from two totally different perspectives! Organisations building teams on this basis will see an increase in innovation and creative problem solving.

It is easy to recruit in your own image, recruiting people from similar backgrounds who share similar views and have the same ideals, who have followed the same path in life. How many times have we been open minded enough to hire or even interview people who do not have relevant sector experience or have spent time in another industry? We would suggest not enough.

Times are changing and the way we build our teams needs to change too.

At TwoTwoFive we use PRISM as a way of identifying people’s behavioural preferences. PRISM approaches human behaviour from a neuroscience perspective as opposed to psychological theory. It allows us to provide a series of ‘maps’ which represent how an individual naturally responds to the world around them and to see how people adapt their behaviour.

Understanding our natural preferences can help us understand our own performance and can enable us to develop as well as providing useful insight into those around us. It can also be powerful in understanding the “best fit” role for someone based on their natural behaviours.  These things can’t be used in isolation of course but can provide another piece of the jigsaw.

A team comprising people with different thought processes, different skills, different life experiences, different levels of education, different personalities, different points of view….now that is POWERFUL !

By Jacqueline Holmes