Monday, October 17, 2016

Why diversity matters

It’s a hot topic today, to be sure. Lots of headlines and lots of people caught behaving badly pushes it into the forefront. Calls for quotas or mandates for more opportunities abound. And as a creative, I can actually tell you why it matters.

We don’t all think the same.
The beauty of being a creative in advertising is that our ranks have been filled with amazing diversity for as long as I’ve been in the business. The only real thing that we all have in common is creativity. We have liberals, conservatives, independents and anarchists. We have women, men, transgender and people trying to figure it out. We have religious zealots, active atheists and a whole bunch of people somewhere in the middle.  We have all races and people of all cultures and languages. And each one of us brings amazingly different ideas and thoughts to the table

Divergent thinking creates better ideas.
In the creative department, we know we can’t surround ourselves with people who think just like us, or we will never get beyond the limitations of our own thinking. My opinion and way of thinking is already in the room. But creativity is additive. Once my idea has emerged, I need someone else’s thinking to make it better. I need someone with a different point of view to see what I’ve missed. If you’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of a great creative team, then you’ve seen this in action, and it’s powerful.It’s also addictive. Once you see how far you can go on the power of collective and diverse thinking, you won’t ever turn back.

You become comfortable being uncomfortable.
Let’s face it, working with people who have opposing points of view can be challenging. Especially if they have stronger arguments than we do. Or better ideas than we do. I can see why some people would rather squash that than engage with it. It’s tough to have to explain or defend your own ideas to people who don’t agree. It’s also wildly uncomfortable to be challenged or bested by people around you. But it makes you work harder, think harder and consider other options. There’s always more than one right answer, and you have to consider the possibility that the other person might be more right than you. As a creative you learn to get comfortable with that, because that’s how it works. And that’s how you get better at your job.

It’s remarkably easy to do.
Give it a shot. If you’ve been surrounding yourself with people who think like you, walk like you and talk like you, bring someone else completely different into your next project or assignment and see where you end up. Better yet, bring in a few. And then allow yourself to be disagreed with, argued with and bested. You might be surprised not only by the outcome, but by how much more fun the journey is, as well.