Cognitive diversity is characterized by the existence of people with different styles, personalities and origins living in the same environment or working on the same project.
But although the profiles are diversified, individuals manage, together, to add competences, overcome obstacles and find new perspectives for old problems.
For this, it is essential to connect organizational culture with diversified professional profiles and capable of proposing rich debates, thanks to intellectual, cultural and experience flexibility.
In this sense, the search for cognitive diversity in the company must start in the recruitment and selection processes. Without failing to value the diversity that the organization already has in its staff.
Ideally, the organization should pursue two goals: demographic diversity and cognitive diversity. That’s because a demographically diverse work environment can become cognitively uniform.
Also, demographic diversity is a mix of characteristics related to statistics, such as gender or age. Cognitive diversity, on the other hand, is more subjective, as it represents a mixture of how people perform intellectual activities, make associations or draw conclusions.
Importance Of Cognitive Diversity
Cognitive diversity is important because it can:
- Eliminate biases: All companies have unconscious biases that go unnoticed due to knowledge gaps or a lack of diversity in the workplace. Increasing your cognitive diversity means there are fewer weak points, as different groups of people bring their knowledge and skills to the team.
- Encourages teamwork: One of the advantages of cognitive diversity is that each team member can trust the others for their unique perspectives. Teams solve problems using each other’s strengths and skills to become cohesive.
- Encourages innovation: Diverse teams in a work culture will be able to think innovatively. Having a diverse workforce means having many different minds that provide different solutions to problems and challenges.
Types Of Cognitive Diversity
There are several types of cognitive diversity that can contribute to a company’s overall variety of thinking and problem-solving . Here are some:
- Culture: A person’s ethnic and cultural background can greatly influence their way of seeing the world. Having demographic diversity on your team will introduce different perspectives that can help solve complex problems.
- Training: A person’s academic training can help shape their way of facing and solving new challenges. There are many different types of students who can bring their own methods to process information and discover solutions.
- Experience: Previous experience on the job or in the world is an important factor in what a person brings to the table. A team member may have unique experiences that help inform company initiatives and add to the group’s overall diversity of thought.
Benefits of cognitive diversity
Different opinions must be considered and valued. Obviously, not all ideas will be taken advantage of, but they need to be heard so that managers can expand possibilities and change direction.
Thus, maintaining a plurality of profiles, ideas and opinions is strategic for the company and healthy for employees. Now, learn about some benefits of cognitive diversity.
1-Add soft skills little considered in selection processes
During the recruitment and selection stages, it is common to focus on relationship aspects such as empathy, flexibility and aptitude for teamwork.
But skills like analytical thinking, synthesis power, strategic thinking and the ability to handle information and data are soft skills that will come in the cognitive diversity package.
In this sense, organizations that consider different ways of thinking will have new perspectives at their disposal and will be able to see opportunities and threats more easily.
2-Solving old and new problems
It is not uncommon for companies to encounter the same obstacles in their processes, which leads us to believe that some problems are cyclical and always come back. Therefore, it is understandable that managers bet on the same solutions and strategies to solve everyday challenges.
Imagine that deadlock situation during a meeting when someone suddenly suggests an alternative. At this point, everyone is asking themselves “why didn’t we think about this before?”.
It is in this context that cognitive diversity makes a difference and offers new perspectives on old problems. Also, when an insight brings an innovative solution and an idea contrary to the majority, it is seen as viable by the leaders.
This is perhaps the greatest benefit that cognitive diversity gives companies, the opening to new profiles, ideas and rich cultural backgrounds. In opposition to the professional profile plastered and incapable of “thinking outside the box”.
Managers who bet on and value teams with different profiles are richer in talent and achieve better results, achieving business success.
However, some organizations are still not convinced of the importance of diversity and its potential to increase engagement and collaboration across teams.
Cognitive diversity encourages the exchange of ideas, opinions and experiences. As a result, employees feel valued by managers and teams. As a result, there is an increase in self-confidence, satisfaction in working at the company and engagement among professionals to achieve the organization’s goals.
4-Fostering critical thinking
When teams have similar profiles, it is conditioned that the ideas are similar and consonant. It is often a comfortable situation. On the other hand, opposing opinions, which apparently have no connection, become a fertile ground for the exchange of ideas.
In this case, cognitive diversity provides rich debates and elaborate arguments. At the same time, it strengthens critical thinking. But for this scenario to develop harmoniously, the HR department needs to broker and set boundaries for healthy discussion. Therefore, opinions must have space to be presented, heard, debated and able to contribute in some way.
Challenges of cognitive diversity
If there are advantages to promoting cognitive diversity in companies, there are also challenges. First, because diversity — or difference of opinion — can cause some tension.
Therefore, people management must understand that environments with a plurality of profiles, experiences and intellectual levels may indeed have divergences. However, this is natural and expected in this scenario.
Another challenge presented by cognitive diversity is the fear that many professionals have in expressing opinions, precisely to avoid confrontations. But this attitude can configure an accommodation disguised as diplomacy.
Thus, it is up to the leaders to find the best way to mediate the debates, considering respect, harmony and tolerance.