Harnessing Diversity

We often hear the truism that diversity leads to better outcomes. But what does this really mean—and how can we make it happen? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • When Omar Johnson was CMO at Beats, he did something that few leaders do. He took the concept of diversity a step further.
  • It was one of the keys to Beats’ marketing success. And it helped to turn Beats into a beloved, billion-dollar brand.
  • Johnson built a team that looked like Beats’ consumer base around the world. They were male, female, young, old, and multi-racial.
  • Johnson also made sure that each employee—especially the younger ones—had a voice. And that they could share their thoughts in different ways. This helped them come up with some of Beats’ biggest and best ideas.
  • If you’re not sure what that means, you’re not alone.
  • Diversity is often used in very general or superficial ways. And we tend to think about it in demographic terms. Gender, race, and social class.
  • The expert on diversity in thinking is Dr. Juliet Bourke. She defines it in two ways: how people see an issue and the mental frameworks used to solve problems.
  • The Beats success story lines up with Bourke’s research. Diversity in thinking is a wellspring of creativity, enhancing innovation by about 20 percent.
  • It also enables groups to spot risks, even reducing them by up to 30 percent.
  • If your employees feel they can’t be open, things could take a turn for the worse.
  • As Rishad Tobaccowala points out, if Wells Fargo and Boeing listened to their team’s concerns and suggestions, they might have not suffered their reputational and market valuation losses.
  • So what can us marketing leaders do to harness diversity in thinking?
  • One of the most important considerations: create a space where your team feels psychologically safe.
  • With meetings, Paul Axell suggests three things. Give permission to ask anything, focus on safety, and follow up. If they’re remote, give each participant equal “air time” and encourage them to share incomplete ideas.
  • And of course, ensure there’s a reason to meet in the first place.
  • Another handy tip: make an effort to understand and adapt to your employees preferred communication styles.
  • There are a few different frameworks that can help. We often use the DiSC assessment.
  • It’s also important to be aware of cultural differences. Be mindful of the greater cultural context of interactions and be on the lookout for non-verbal cues.
  • We’ll leave you with one last takeaway. What we say and do makes all the difference in making our team feel included.
  • In other words, inclusive leadership is what makes the dream work.
Issue #155
Nov 6, 2022

Further Reading