Yesterday I posted a quote on LinkedIn. It was about hidden diversity and mostly about cognitive diversity.
I got a lot of comments of people liking this topic so I decided to write a longer post about it today.
When we think about diversity, we think about race, gender, age and mostly characteristics we can see and identify. For sure, we are a visual species and we can easily spot differences between people.
But what about everything we can’t see. And here I am talking about what I alluded to at the beginning: cognitive diversity. To me, it is what diversity is about and the power that diversity brings.
In terms of marketing and messages to potential customers, partners, collaborators, showing visible diversity is a way that different people can relate to your organisation: they can see people like them. Studies have even shown that diversity has more of an impact when it is visible.
I will argue it is not just about looking different. There is so much more that people bring than how they look like.
Let’s take the example of religion. There will be some external signs that can tell you a person’s religion. Not always, I definitely agree. As an organisation, we may decide that you wish to have a wide range of religions represented in your people. Is it to look more diverse? This is a limited aim if it is the only aim.
You want different people because they have different ideas. People from different religions will have been taught different things. They will have a different way of seeing and interacting with the world. They will think differently. They will have different views on what interactions and relationships are about. I could add many other aspects. Each individual will bring all these different aspects and will increase the creativity, innovation, flexibility and adaptability of your organisation.
How can you assess the cognitive diversity of people? It is not something you can ask on an equal opportunities form in an application. Actually, most of us are not aware and conscious about how we think for instance really.
You need to understand what the differences are, what differences you already have in your organisation, what differences you want to add. When looking for new recruits, you need to include questions in applications and interviews that will allow to assess this aspect of diversity.
Yes, easier said than done, but we can discuss further about it, when you are ready.