As we take on a more globalized view, interactions with individuals from other cultures become the norm. It’s so important to embrace the reality of differences and the fact that these differences are often what make teams work better. More progress can be made with collaboration – the Allied Forces ending World War II, the end of Apartheid, creation of billion-dollar companies like Apple and Amazon, and hundreds of joint Nobel and Peace Prizes are just some examples of how collaboration fosters success. Many times, the corporate world gets stuck (as we all do) in what paths bring us to success.
When I walk into an American corporate lunchroom (and this really goes for any country), I usually see all the expats in one area, all the locals in one area, and, if the company is foreign-owned, all the top dogs from that country in one area.
I feel like I’m at a 6th-grade dance when in an office lunchroom.
We are proposing to go further with diversity than just hiring. Don’t just hire diverse, eat lunch diversely. Break bread together so that you can collaborate more effectively.
It is diversity in the corporate lunchroom that we believe can lead to tremendous breakthroughs in collaboration, communication and innovative progress (more business! This isn’t all gooshy feel-good stuff – we’re running a business here.)
Diversity in Collaboration
Interactions with those who are different from you breed creativity that you won’t find on your own or in the presence of like minds. It is harder to get unique ideas while sitting in a room of people who all have the same education, culture, age, religion, political view and socioeconomic background. So many companies are diversifying to see if they can get that cutting-edge innovation.
Take, for instance, the Pulse’s recounting of how diverse collaboration changed scientific outcomes. This collaboration eradicated issues and roadblocks that were hindering progress when scientists existed in groups of colleagues with similar backgrounds as them. What many scientists found was that the more diverse your collaborators were, the more likely that your research would be cited, with more frequency. These varied perspectives create room for different ideas. With interaction and genuine collaboration across cultures and ways of thinking, there can be tremendous breakthroughs in business that defy all odds and expectations.
Diversity Increases ROI
Diversity comes in all shapes, sizes, ideas, ethnicities, beliefs, religions, faces, you name it. With more than a few people contributing to the conversation, your employees don’t have to compromise themselves for the workplace. This creates a happier and more inclusive work atmosphere which, in turn, improves employee retention and customer satisfaction because you now have happier employees. This goes straight to your bottom line – as a satisfied employee is a more productive employee – not to mention a more diversified workforce is a more creative one (but not too diverse). I cannot paint the picture more vividly than that – there are direct, measurable and cyclical results attributed to creating a workplace that is inviting and accepting of everyone. Successful companies represent and reflect all of their customers.
Diversifying your workplace doesn’t have to look only like bringing in new faces and getting rid of the old. It can be exposing your employees to new articles in the field, going on company field trips, organizing company-wide trainings or outings. Bring in speakers, start a company book club, do things that bring a new way of thinking – a new outlook – to your company. Not surprisingly, a lot of growth can happen over a lunch table, learning to talk to each other, learning about each other, and learning how each other communicate.
We encourage all lunchrooms to step out of their comfort zone and ask another table, “Is anyone sitting here?”