Recruiters
July 8, 2020

The Value of Diversity in Preventing Organizational Groupthink

Beyond workplace quotas being satisfied, there are several other dimensions that make diverse teams more resilient and better-equipped to grow as part of an organization.
Source: Unsplash

Organizations across different sectors and industries today are being put under the public spotlight more than ever for failing to hire diverse teams. In 2017 The Atlantic published an op-ed titled Why is Silicon Valley so Awful toward Women? which discussed, at the time, the dismal outlook for hiring women in the programming industry, and belittling culture that has historically persisted in tech regarding women.

Likewise in the non-profit sector, African-American scholars and other ethnic professionals have noted the entire industries profound whiteness amongst employees and board members, and have questioned organizations that are meant to help underserved minority-led communities with team members that have little minority or ethnic presence.  

These issues haven’t simply appeared to try and level the staffing platform and make every hire balance out the diversity scale, but moreover have highlighted issues surrounding diversity of thought and analysis, too. This is key because in fields that require heavy analytical and research skills, it is important not to fall victim to groupthink, and being able to challenge assumptions being brought up through various research methods.

Diverse narratives and their utility in the workplace

The value of diversity from this perspective shows that co-workers from different walks of life (such as people who grew up in different regions of the country or in different country settings entirely), have lived out different life experiences before making it to their professional career, and as such they are perhaps more attuned to challenging assumptions, as they have seen through their life experiences such notions to be false or easily void.

This is important at the organizational level because it can help prevent groupthink. Groupthink occurs when group members fail to challenge the dominant discourse when coming up with a solution to something, and in turn the optimal solution is perhaps not brought to the table. Diverse teams can safeguard against this happening because more diversity means more diverse life experiences, which leads to a higher probability that someone will question current methods of design.

In other words, the probability of preventing groupthink is lower when a team is less diverse, because less diverse life experiences and backgrounds translates to less of a likelihood that one team member will spot the analytical weakness or assumption. This is not to say that non-diverse teams will not prevent groupthink—they might spot groupthink early on in a research process. This is simply to say promoting a richly diverse team minimizes the risk of groupthink from a purely probability based scenario.

Increased employee satisfaction in the workplace

Dismantling groupthink with a diverse team also does something besides coming up with a more appropriate theory of change model. It also brings excitement to a team trying to solve a problem as opposed to the mundane routine of not having anything challenging to work on.

It is a bit like attending an easy course at a university. Students know the course is easy and can predict what most of the assignments and assessments will look like through its entirety. This in turn might lead to a feeling of boredom or perhaps dullness because there is never anything surprising that happens at the course level. 

When employees of a non-profit, for example, have new and exciting thought processes brought up by diverse group members, it helps stimulate important conversations, and also makes going to the office everyday a more comprehensive process because employees need to think through there co-workers narratives.

Successful teams might come to enjoy such unpredictabilities, as it adds a level of mystery but also an ambition to solve more problems. Ultimately, working through groupthink and coming up with new methodologies for thinking about problems also leads to tighter-knit work teams that are able to bond and grow together.

TagsDiversityWorkplace
Michael Robbins
Writer
Michael is a writer that helps organizations align their mission and values to a wide audience.

Related Articles

Back
RecruitersJuly 8, 2020
The Value of Diversity in Preventing Organizational Groupthink
Beyond workplace quotas being satisfied, there are several other dimensions that make diverse teams more resilient and better-equipped to grow as part of an organization.

Organizations across different sectors and industries today are being put under the public spotlight more than ever for failing to hire diverse teams. In 2017 The Atlantic published an op-ed titled Why is Silicon Valley so Awful toward Women? which discussed, at the time, the dismal outlook for hiring women in the programming industry, and belittling culture that has historically persisted in tech regarding women.

Likewise in the non-profit sector, African-American scholars and other ethnic professionals have noted the entire industries profound whiteness amongst employees and board members, and have questioned organizations that are meant to help underserved minority-led communities with team members that have little minority or ethnic presence.  

These issues haven’t simply appeared to try and level the staffing platform and make every hire balance out the diversity scale, but moreover have highlighted issues surrounding diversity of thought and analysis, too. This is key because in fields that require heavy analytical and research skills, it is important not to fall victim to groupthink, and being able to challenge assumptions being brought up through various research methods.

Diverse narratives and their utility in the workplace

The value of diversity from this perspective shows that co-workers from different walks of life (such as people who grew up in different regions of the country or in different country settings entirely), have lived out different life experiences before making it to their professional career, and as such they are perhaps more attuned to challenging assumptions, as they have seen through their life experiences such notions to be false or easily void.

This is important at the organizational level because it can help prevent groupthink. Groupthink occurs when group members fail to challenge the dominant discourse when coming up with a solution to something, and in turn the optimal solution is perhaps not brought to the table. Diverse teams can safeguard against this happening because more diversity means more diverse life experiences, which leads to a higher probability that someone will question current methods of design.

In other words, the probability of preventing groupthink is lower when a team is less diverse, because less diverse life experiences and backgrounds translates to less of a likelihood that one team member will spot the analytical weakness or assumption. This is not to say that non-diverse teams will not prevent groupthink—they might spot groupthink early on in a research process. This is simply to say promoting a richly diverse team minimizes the risk of groupthink from a purely probability based scenario.

Increased employee satisfaction in the workplace

Dismantling groupthink with a diverse team also does something besides coming up with a more appropriate theory of change model. It also brings excitement to a team trying to solve a problem as opposed to the mundane routine of not having anything challenging to work on.

It is a bit like attending an easy course at a university. Students know the course is easy and can predict what most of the assignments and assessments will look like through its entirety. This in turn might lead to a feeling of boredom or perhaps dullness because there is never anything surprising that happens at the course level. 

When employees of a non-profit, for example, have new and exciting thought processes brought up by diverse group members, it helps stimulate important conversations, and also makes going to the office everyday a more comprehensive process because employees need to think through there co-workers narratives.

Successful teams might come to enjoy such unpredictabilities, as it adds a level of mystery but also an ambition to solve more problems. Ultimately, working through groupthink and coming up with new methodologies for thinking about problems also leads to tighter-knit work teams that are able to bond and grow together.

Diversity
Workplace
About the author
Michael Robbins -Writer
Michael is a writer that helps organizations align their mission and values to a wide audience.

Related Articles