A cognitively diverse workplace, where a variety of perspectives are heard and valued, is fundamental to success in an increasingly complex marketplace. As research from the Boston Consulting Group (and many others) has shown -> diversity increases the capacity for innovation, is predictive of future growth, and can raise revenue by 19 percentage points.
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However, diversity, in any of its many forms, is not a numbers game. Marketers like to think in terms of data and figures—how many qualified leads, what percentage of customers return, etc.—but achieving a cognitively diverse workplace requires a different approach. To succeed, marketers need to think more broadly and focus on creating psychologically safe environments where the strengths and potential of all individuals are acknowledged and appreciated. That is the only way marketing organizations can attain the level of varied, innovative thinking that will enable them to thrive in our ever more diverse world.
What can you do to improve cognitive diversity on your marketing team?
Get creative with recruitment
Broaden your outreach to include non-traditional students such as those enrolled in online colleges and at vocational or technical schools. Likewise, expand your efforts to smaller colleges beyond your usual list. Once you do, you’ll start connecting with students who may not have had exposure to career fairs and other opportunities afforded to students at larger universities. This can open the door to an entirely new pool of workers, including those who may not have even considered marketing as a career. Even if they don’t have a typical degree or standard path to entry, these students may have exactly the passion, drive, and determination your organization is looking for. At Sitecore, we consider these individuals vital for cultivating future marketing talent, and we encourage other organizations to do the same.
Embrace brilliant minds without limitation
Businesses need a plurality of mindsets and outlooks, and that means hiring people with a variety of backgrounds and upbringings. Those individuals will undoubtedly have their own life experiences and perspectives to bring to the business, enriching the discussion and decision-making process in ways that would not be achieved otherwise. This includes embracing neurodiversity within your workforce and employing more individuals with ADHD, dyslexia, or autism. Their neurodiversity should not be seen as a challenge or limitation but as an advantage, encouraging diversity of thought.
Examine internal practices to ensure talent is getting the proper support
Is your culture welcoming to all different types of people? Review your onboarding and orientation practices to make sure they are equitable and inclusive and that you are connecting people to the right resources early on. In addition, audit protocols for managing performance, career advancement, and succession planning. Analyze the results thoroughly and honestly, and then address any imbalances. Do employees have the mentors they need? Is your leadership pipeline based on information that is objective and accurate or is it guided by assumptions and unconscious bias?
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Inspire the next generation of talent
Nurturing a diverse workforce is an on-going process. If, for example, there are not enough data engineers to fill the growing number of vacancies over the next 10 years, marketing organizations will be facing an enormous talent shortage. That’s one reason why we need to get more young people excited about the idea of a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). A number of programs, such as Woman to Woman Mentoring and FabFems, have been created to do just that. These initiatives are helping, but organizations still have more work to do if they want to inspire a future generation of diverse individuals. Of course, your efforts do not have to be limited to encouraging technology or other STEM roles – marketers from all disciplines should take the time to speak with the next generation. In doing so, you’ll raise awareness about what a marketing career has to offer and better position your organization to recruit future talent.
Enterprises will benefit by fully embracing cognitive diversity. Doing so not only helps create a work environment that is more psychologically safe, inclusive, and equitable, but also helps ensure creative problem-solving and innovation are maximized throughout the business.