Why Integrate Diversity?

February 2011, by So-Young Kang

1) What does it mean to “integrate diversity”?

It starts with understanding and recognizing that everyone is unique, with a different set of strengths, capabilities and experiences. Integrating diversity is about recognizing it and then creating environments where you can bring out the best so that when you work together, the sum is much greater than the parts.

Diversity can come from ethnicity, gender, experience, life stage and so on.

2) Why is integrating diversity important and what are its impacts?

It is important on multiple levels:

1. Innovation – In order to come up with cutting-edge solutions, you really need to have different perspectives and experiences. If you have the same group of people [on a team] working on something, you’re limited to the types of solutions you can create. For example, bring a painter on your team and see what types of solutions you come up with.

By integrating differences, it actually allows you to expand your horizons and push the boundaries.

2. Organizational culture – An organization that integrates diversity creates a culture that is collaborative. It honors the fact that everyone is different, understands each person’s different strengths, capabilities and experiences and then brings them together. This is a powerful thing.

3. Personally fulfilling – It is fulfilling to work in a diverse environment and with people who acknowledge each other’s uniqueness and strengths. When we bring these together, the things that we create are bigger and better than what we would have created individually.

3) How have you been able to integrate diversity in your organization?

Last summer, we [The Awaken Group] launched our own innovative way of working – the ‘Creative Collaborative.’ It is made up of five different companies across Singapore, Korea and the U.S. It was our way of living out our values of “integrating diversity” and working “together” to unleash individual “potential” by bringing together five very different people including an artist, architect, youth leadership expert, consultant, coach, and film-maker to create and design new solutions for our clients. It has been quite fun to do that.

We came together based on a common vision and shared values for the type of impact we want to have on the world. It’s been very exciting. For example, we have been working very closely with Union Experience on Design Thinking. We have also been working closely with LinHart Group for CEO and executive coaching and counseling. I’m very much looking forward to the innovative solutions that we will be coming up with for our clients as a result of this Creative Collaborative.