Does your organization create a workplace environment that encourages innovative thinking?
We usually think of innovation as a technology breakthrough that transforms human life. But innovation is more simply “the successful application of new ideas” (see the BuildForce Performance Benchmarking Blog, February 28, 2019).
The question then is, where do new ideas come from, and how do they get applied?
Research demonstrates that a respectful and inclusive workplace encourages innovation because it brings diversity of thought and experience to bear on workplace challenges.
You may remember from our previous blog (#32, October 5, 2019) that a respectful and inclusive workplace encourages diversity by bringing together people who are different in many ways, including different genders, backgrounds, and circumstances, as well as diversity in thought, communication, and problem-solving styles.
A research study based on a survey of 1,800 professionals, 40 case studies, and numerous focus groups and interviews found that diversity in leadership is a significant factor in driving innovation. Organizations benefit when leaders both embody and embrace the power of differences.
The study found that leaders who have two types of diversity are most effective at unlocking innovation: inherent diversity and acquired diversity.
1. Inherent diversity involves traits you were born with, such as gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
2. Acquired diversity involves traits you gain from experience; for example, working in another country can help you appreciate culture differences.
These leaders created environments where “outside-the-box” ideas are heard. They also benefitted from a wide range of compelling ideas, because all workers were heard, not just those from an “in group.” This resulted in added value to the company.
Diversity in top leadership must start somewhere: the organization must have a culture that supports diversity in all job levels, from new entrants to supervisors to middle management.
The BuildForce respectful workplace toolkit provides a comprehensive toolkit for organizations that want to find new ways to encourage innovative thinking. Organizations might consider using the respectful workplace online training course to help workers and supervisors build their respectful and inclusive workplace knowledge and skills that will give them innovative approaches to workplace issues, and more generally to create an environment receptive to innovation.
- Hewlett, Sylvia Ann, Melinda Marshall and Laura Sherbin. "How Diversity Can Drive Innovation." Harvard Business Review. December 2013.
What can an effective Respectful and Inclusive Workplace Program deliver?
- Become an employer of choice - attract, retain, and advance top talent from all sources of labour
- Unlock collaboration and innovation - create high-performing teams through diversity of thought and experience
- Build your brand - your organization will gain a competitive edge as a leader and innovator
Get started today!
The BuildForce Canada Online Respectful and Inclusive Workplace Toolkit includes:
- the Respectful Workplace Online Self-Assessment Tool to assist organization leadership in assessing their current situation and identifying where they may need to make changes
- the Respectful Workplace Policy Framework and Implementation Guide to assist organizations in creating and implementing a policy that supports a respectful and inclusive workplace
- the Respectful Workplace Online Training Course to train workers on how to create and support a respectful and inclusive workplace
All the resources you need to create and support a respectful and inclusive workplace!