3-D Diversity: Why progressive brands see workforce diversity as a competitive advantage not a compliance issue.

3D Workforce Diversity Model

Workforce diversity has become a hot topic over the last few years. Minority groups are still shockingly underrepresented, and companies’ HR departments are under increasing pressure to comply with equal employment opportunity regulations. Unfortunately, this focus on checking the compliance box can never unlock the full potential of true diversity.

In a seminal Harvard Business Review article on 2-D diversity, there’s compelling evidence that companies who embrace both inherent diversity (traits such as gender, sexual orientation, nationality and ethnicity) with additional acquired diversity (traits gained from experience – skills, education, cultural exposure), are more innovative and grow faster.

Acquired diversity is the result of life experiences. The more diverse inputs you experience, the richer your creative journey, and the more ‘compound interest’ you accumulate in your creativity-bank. However, many companies still hire people who think similarly, come from similar backgrounds with similar life experiences.

The debate around diversity so far has focused on the workforce within organisational boundaries and overlooks the most important stakeholder group: external audience. If you want to be a creative brand you need to embrace acquired diversity as much as possible.

Opening open up to communities around the brand would unlock what we’d call 3-D diversity. Embedding the raw creativity and visceral experiences of people who live at the edges of culture, into the innovation process itself, will drastically improve the creative journey of your brand and ultimately, as proven, supercharge your innovation and growth.

A decade ago, when sustainability became a hot topic, Nike was one of the first companies to turn sustainability from a problem into an opportunity – to great success. We believe the same shift will happen with diversity.

What’s your opinion? Are you an innovation leader that has a story to tell about the benefits of diversity, we would love to hear from you!