Updated: Jun 24
In the modern world, we are surrounded by diversity on a daily basis. Diversity can display itself in small ways and sometimes in ways that we may not even notice. As Ohio State students, we are consistently working in a variety of groups and settings. We are in contact with people who come from different backgrounds or have varying values that may differ from our own. Whether this happens while working in group projects, in our student organizations, or while working outside of the classroom in an internship or career, you are bound to work in teams of people who all have unique views of the world. In this blog post, I plan to dive a little deeper into why the concept of diversity and inclusion is something many companies are looking to achieve and improve upon from a professional standpoint.
UBWA alumna, Melissa Trejo, provided me with real-world guidance on how diversity influences the workplace.Her insight has helped me to give insight into how diversity in the workplace can influence more innovative thinking and problem solving, as well as the tangible benefits many companies are seeing based on diverse teamwork.
The Benefit of Varying Perspectives on Creativity and Problem Solving
Many companies around the world, ranging from corporate entities to locally owned businesses, are continuing to make diversity and inclusion a larger part of their company values. To break down the term “diversity in the workplace” I want to begin with acknowledging that diversity ranges from a cultural and religious perspective to working with different genders, ages, or people with disabilities. Working with those who are different than you is the beginning to more creative thinking and more involved team problem-solving skills.
Melissa Trejo is an alumna of UBWA, who graduated from Fisher in 2015 with a degree in accounting and economics. While Melissa was an undergrad at Fisher, she interned at Nationwide and now holds a full-time position there, working with the Investments on the Close, Analysis and Regulatory Reporting Solution’s team. Melissa shared an inside look at how a company as large as Nationwide makes diversity and inclusion part of their everyday mission. Melissa explained, “If you were hiring a team, you wouldn’t hire everyone with the same skills and strengths. A smart manager would hire people with different skill sets and strengths to have a well-rounded team that compliments each other. If everyone did everything the same and thought the same way, there would never be innovation because everyone would have the same ideas and think there is one “best” solution to a problem. Diversity and inclusion is key for a successful organization because it allows people with different backgrounds to come together and be open to be uniquely them.”
Diversity in a professional environment promotes higher creativity as team members and employees are more open to being their authentic selves. Working in a diverse group also brings about a much higher level of innovation, as Melissa mentions above. In a diverse environment, whether this be working in the professional world or working on a class project here at Fisher, exposing yourself to varying viewpoints and different ways of thinking enhances innovation as multiple perspectives come together. Working in a team of people that came from different backgrounds and grew up having different experiences from one another is how diverse solutions come about. If everyone in the room has the exact same idea or way of thinking through a problem, you miss out on looking at the situation from different angles. Seeing problems differently than the person who sits across from you enables more creativity in teamwork, which has led to more informed decisions.
Higher Employee Productivity and Psychological Safety
Have you ever worked in a group where you have an idea or input to a problem, but you don’t feel comfortable speaking up in fear that the rest of your team may overlook you? This scenario can happen in team projects or group discussions where an individual or a few people within a group don't feel comfortable speaking up. As a result, the rest of the group doesn't get to benefit from the diverse ideas of the team in its entirety. While creating diverse groups is an important part of any team or project, making sure to promote the idea of inclusion is just as important. Diversity helps to produce an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable speaking up and making their ideas known. Diversity in the workplace isn't just about forming a group with people who are of different ages, genders, or ethnicities, but also creating a space where these groups feel confident in themselves and their teammates, thus creating a productive working environment. Melissa emphasises that, “When your company embraces, welcomes, and values you for being you, you’re more engaged and driven to be the best you. Having people who are different than you is equally important to having people who are similar to you. For me, having people who are similar to me allows me to feel more at home.”
Ways in Which Companies Create Diverse & Inclusive Spaces
In the same way that we have a vast array of student organizations on campus, Melissa elaborated on the resources companies such as Nationwide provide for their employees to feel more inclusive in the professional world. Melissa said, “One of those resources is our Associate Resource Groups (ARG), which are basically like clubs similar to UBWA. I am involved in the All Women ARG and the National Latino Alliance ARG. I have connected with so many people through these ARG’s that have become my second family.” Having resources such as “ARG” is becoming a norm at many different companies. These organizations are oftentimes interconnected around the country, by a national board and with each office having their own chapter. Staying involved in organizations that promote diversity allows you to network and meet more people. These people may either be similar or different from yourself or they may not work in your office.
Melissa also shared with me how Nationwide promotes diversity throughout the entire company via their diversity and inclusion teams. She explained that, “An example of how diversity and inclusion is embedded throughout the whole organization is with our diversity and inclusion teams, which is different from the associate resource groups. There is the Enterprise Diversity and Inclusion team that manages all diversity and inclusion efforts for the whole company. There are diversity inclusion teams for each business unit. I fall under the Finance business unit and there is a Finance Diversity and Inclusion team that focuses on diversity and inclusion for the Finance department.”
Staying involved in different organizations, as well as diversity and inclusion groups, helps to promote diversity in the work environment even after you have left the office for the day. The types of organizations that Melissa mentioned are great ways to meet people in different departments or that may even work for a different company entirely! Staying involved outside of your daily work schedule helps to enhance diversity and open your mind to new ideas and different skill sets.
Tangible Benefits Many Companies See by Promoting Diverse Groups
A benefit that many companies are also experiencing along with increased productivity and innovation from hiring a diverse skill set, is increased profit and financial well being. There is a direct link between hiring more diverse teams and faster decision making, which leads to a competitive edge in the profit sector. When employees from different backgrounds work together, solutions are reached faster, more creatively, and employees are often happier. All of these factors put together have been shown to increase revenue results.
It is clear that companies and organizations around the world value diverse and inclusive workspaces to enhance creative thinking, critical problem solving, innovation, increased profits and overall employee engagement. It is important to remember that the success linked to working in a diverse and sometimes unfamiliar environment starts with you. Having the ability to be open minded and appreciate values other than your own will take you far in both your personal and professional life.
Thank you again to Melissa Trejo, who was kind enough to share her experiences and values related to diversity and inclusion in the workplace in order to help with this blog post. Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like more information on this topic by emailing me at email@example.com.