How Can Cognitive Diversity in the Workplace Benefit Everyone?

Cognitive diversity refers to differences in individuals’ perspectives or information processing styles. It consists of the same principle, but accentuates the inclusion of individuals who think differently or process information in their own way than neurotypical individuals. On an organizational level, cognitive diversity focuses on getting a team of people who perform intellectual activities differently; this especially matters in coming to the conclusions or making effective decisions.

In the workplace, having cognitive diversity considered as powerful as other businesses that seek to attain through great communication and strong leadership. Driving a culture of innovation with a company relies heavily on diverse thinking and learning styles. However, encouraging greater cognitive diversity in teams can be challenging, as the natural inclination of leaders is often to select people who have a similar approach.

Enabling Cognitive Diversity 

Companies always desire creative solutions, fresh perspectives, and new energy from their employees. In this context, the role of human resources managers becomes significant to acquire talent with a greater diversity in age, gender, ability, and ethnicity to their organization. This will help answer key business questions and direct the organization’s growth path. Such kinds of businesses that hire diverse candidates are very few in number, looking to strengthen their workforces’ skills.

A majority of organizations often hire new talent based on their pedigree for a specific role, and years of experience in a similar position. This hiring technique may limit a company’s ability to garner the cognitive diversity needed to address business challenges in today’s highly competitive environment.

Cognitive diversity generally describes employee engagement. In a study of 3,726 individuals from a variety of backgrounds on the topics of diversity and inclusion, Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) found that millennials see diversity and inclusion through the lens of teamwork. They view cognitive diversity as an essential element for innovation, where 71 percent said they were more likely to focus on teamwork.

Cognitive diversity in the workplace also assists teams to solve problems more quickly and effectively, as well as averting stern, innovation-killing side effects of the absence of diversity in a team.

Augmenting the level of cognitive diversity on the office floor might be challenging than increasing the levels of demographic diversity. Thus, to ease this requires enlightening a workplace culture where different viewpoints, even conflicting ones are welcomed and listened to with respect. In this scenario, the leaders’ role paramount who needs to be actively looking for employees’ reactions such as who agree and disagree with them.

Therefore, a high degree of cognitive diversity could expedite learning and help drive better performance in the context of new, uncertain, and complex situations. This could also counter to some conventional management strategies and perhaps even counter to human nature.