Diversity: Utilizing Our Differences for Success


In our society, although many organizations continue to grapple with issues of diversity, in a multitude of businesses, including retail, fashion, media, entertainment and sports, diversity is reflected at many levels.  Still, at this time it is clear that there is still more to be done as people realize that there continues to be a lack of communication and understanding on certain levels within our society.

Everyone who participates in a common endeavor as part of a collective is simply a citizen of that collective.  This of course applies to businesses.  All within the collective have different experiences which contribute positively and are generally interesting and useful to others within the collective.  Studies have shown that when each individual is allowed to provide their unique perspectives to the collective, when embraced, results in better than expected outcomes to solutions to problems being addressed.  All would agree that beautifully harmonic music is preferable to a monotone.

Of course, there continues to exist issues of access, racism, prejudice, bigotry, egalitarian treatment, etc.  “Racism in the United States continues to be so pervasive and systematic that, in August 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) published a report that examined racial equality and justice in the US. CERD noted that black Americans disproportionately face economic and social disparity and urged the US to halt not only the excessive use of force by police, but also broader racism. “This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials,” said Noureddine Amir, CERD committee vice chairman. “Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation to access to health care and housing.”  This should not be for companies and businesses in the United States of America in this day and age.  As a successful admissions expert, with over 20 years of experience and an enviable acceptance track record, my exposure to and experiences with systemic racism, bigotry and prejudice are not new.  They, understandably, have been and continue to be the norm (par for the course) because who I am.  These experiences and my continually being viewed as different and inferior (and, at times, unqualified) have paradoxically empowered me, as an admissions advisor, to creatively and innovatively help my clients stand out and gain admissions to their top-choice private schools, colleges and universities and BS/MD programs!

Parents who overcome various issues as well who understand, respect and appreciate the value of different perspectives allow us to provide their children with unmatched COMPETITIVE admissions advantages!  In essence, their children benefit immensely from my being continually viewed and times treated as different – What an empowering paradox!

Racial, ethnic, generational and cultural differences have always been America’s greatest assets!  They have collectively been the glue that have made America great!  Diversity was a necessary precondition to our democracy and has provided the impetus for engagement in the full kaleidoscope of “American culture”.  Furthermore, it has produced an enviable position that other nations strive for in our world.

  1. Diversity in business and commerce:  In today’s globalizing, fast-changing, highly-competitive and networked world, the capacity to turn diversity to one’s advantage is critical and necessary.  It is not just a nice thing to do for racial and ethnic minorities; it is a MUST.  As the world evolves dramatically, cultural, ethnic and racial immersion has become a widespread organizational imperative – from Google to IBM.
  2. Research shows that diversity usually trumps familiarity, insularity and ability.  Diverse teams are much better at problem-seeking and problem-solving. They bring different cognitive, intellectual and experiential tool kits and ways of approaching a problem to the table.  Diverse teams see customers, products, and market opportunities in creative, new and unforeseen ways.  Even among the most well-meaning, a homogeneous team comes with a limited outlook., whereas a diverse team often yields nuanced deliberated decisions made from multiple perspectives and experiences that result in deeper and wider considerations and probable outcomes and results.
  3. A report entitled, “Innovation, Diversity, and Market Growth” found that when teams have one or more members who represent the gender, ethnicity, culture, generation, or sexual orientation of the team’s target end user, the team is as much as 158 percent more likely to clearly understand that target subject. This difference significantly increases the team’s likelihood of creating successful programs or products for their target subject.
  4. The American Sociological Association has demonstrated that in organizations with diverse teams there is a 9% rise in sales revenue and significant increase in business performance.  In contrast, monolithic and homogeneous thought within a group makes a cohesive team, but one that will happily and repeatedly agree on the same mistake as the rest of world evolves.
  5. Wall Street financial firms have recognized that in “superforecasting” (forecasting and predicting future market shifts) the wisdom and judgement of diverse teams can broaden knowledge base and focuses more on constantly updating probabilities rather than a non-diverse team that is involved in group think.
  6. Former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, the American Economic Association’s president, and other prominent economists have said a lack of diversity limits how the economics field analyzes issues and crafts policies that affect broad swaths of people.
  7.  Diversity decreases mistakes: Individuals with different backgrounds and styles approach problems differently.  Research published by a MIT professor exploring past literature, found that diverse teams tend to be less susceptible to groupthink, which can drastically reduce the likelihood of making avoidable mistakes.
  8. A 2014 study of Columbia University showed that ethnically diverse trader teams priced assets more accurately, avoided conformity, and thwarted bubbles.
  9. Diversity and Innovation: The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies. Diverse perspectives with in office settings consistently allow for more powerful breakthroughs in innovation.  Research shows that that daily interactions with co-workers from different racial and economic backgrounds help a team develop the ability to view and understand complex problems and events through multiple lenses.  Research also has demonstrated that an integrated workforce helps companies design and sell products more effectively to a wide range of customers on global scale.
  10. A study by Rocio Lorenzo and Martin Reeves: “How and Where Diversity Drives Financial Performance”, in the Harvard Business Review of 1700 companies in eight countries, found that diversity among managers was associated with greater organizational innovation and profitability. 
  11. A McKinsey & Company research report: “Why Diversity Matters”, revealed that of 366 public companies analyzed, those in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians.  In the United States, there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance: for every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent.
  12. A McKinsey & Company research report analyzes how inequality shapes the Hollywood industry and how much it ultimately costs its bottom line. The consulting firm deduced that the $148 billion film and TV industry loses $10 billion, or 7%, every year by undervaluing Black films, filmmakers and executives.
  13. The Great British Diversity Experiment proved that being in a diverse group makes you more creative because you get many different perspectives and you connect the dots in different ways.  The study’s findings indicated that “Diversity is the New Darwinism
  14. In a study about groupthink, Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to make Groups Smarter, homogenous groups have a high probability of making poor or self-destructive decisions and intensify biases:  (1) Groups do not merely fail to correct the errors of their members; they amplify them.  (2) They fall victim to cascade effects, as group members follow the statements and actions of those who spoke or acted first. (3) They become polarized, taking up positions more extreme than those they held before deliberations. (4) They focus on what everybody knows already—and thus don’t take into account critical information that only one or a few people have.  
  15. According to a Brookings Institution report on the 12 regional U.S. Fed banks and diversity,  “bank directors are overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male, and overwhelmingly drawn from business communities within their districts, with little participation from minorities, women, or from areas of the economy – labor, nonprofits, the academy – with important contributions to make to Fed governance.  Promotions of Reserve Bank Presidents form within creates a risk for groupthink and intellectual homogeneity.”

Scott Page, author of The Difference, a book on the power of diversity, makes an very interesting analogy:  a good toolbox is not the same as a toolbox full of good tools: two dozen top-quality hammers will not do the job.  However, what is needed for an excellent job is variety (diversity):  a hammer, pliers, saw, a choice of screwdrivers and more.:

Racial and ethnic differences is not just a good idea and good for society, it’s good for business.  We should continue to embrace and acknowledge our differences for its importance in contributing to business, cultural and academic success that has made the United States of America the shining example that many other countries have attempted to emulate.

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Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group, provides comprehensive counseling advice, exclusively for admissions to top private schools; Ivy League and highly-selective colleges/universities; BS/MD programs; graduate and medical schools and top visual and performing arts programs.   The admissions affiliate: Ivy League Admissions Advisors specializes in admissions to Ivy League and highly selective colleges,  Dr. Lowe also specializes in helping students who have been wait-listed, deferred or rejected gain admission into their top-choice schools: College Application Rejected. and student who wish to transfer to another college: College Transfer Admissions Advisors.