Diverse voices are more than just tokenism in action. Theyhave real positive consequences.
Did you know that car airbags were designed for men, andtested using “male” crash test dummies? This meant that in the real world, theyhave been more dangerous to women and children, because they weren’t designedto deal with different body shapes and sizes when there was an accident.
Let’s skip over the benefits of having access to a widertalent pool – you know, like if you flat-out refuse to hire 50 per cent of thepopulation, you’re not giving yourself the best options to pick from – and jumpstraight to the effects of mixing things up, gender-wise, in an organisation. Forstarters, you’re going to have people around who’ll put their hand up and ask whethermaybe we should use a crash test dummy with boobs, you know, just for funsies.
But there’s more to it than that. There’s an old saying that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Different life experiences lead to a broader range of points of view, and approaches to problems. In basic terms, having gender diversity at work means you have access to more solutions that you might never have thought of. On the other hand, if you surround yourself with people like you, with the same viewpoints and skills as you, you’re automatically locking yourself off from opportunities.
Everything looks like a nail, in other words.
Diversity of gender also means a shifting of culture –generally for the better. There are studies showing, for example, that havingwomen on teams boosts collaboration and improves processes. Theyimprove the quality of STEM research. And they raisethe collective intelligence of the group. It also means your business is betterplaced to handle a diverse customer base or external suppliers or… really, anyother humans you might come into contact with while doing business.
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