There are few people living today who have not heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His music is undoubtedly brilliant, and 250 years later it still remains present in many forms of our media – Hollywood movies, television advertisements and even cell phone ring tones.
A key “differentiator” of Mozart’s lasting genius was the diversity of his work. Arguably, there have been few composers who were more versatile than Mozart. He wrote music in nearly every form conceivable – songs, sonatas, operas, symphonies.
It has been documented that his artistic diversity in part came from his openness to varied cultures, ideas and experiences gained while traveling around Europe throughout his short life.
But what does Mozart have to do with the business world and global companies today? I believe the “platform” of Mozart’s brilliance — his openness to learn from others and their diverse experiences — is a useful framework when considering the elements that make up a great company culture – openness to versatility and inclusion.
The ability to attract, retain and engage the very best talent from a broad spectrum of demographics is crucial for companies to compete and succeed today. At LSI, we have a vibrant, diverse workforce, and I consider myself very fortunate to be part of a company that embraces and encourages diversity. Embracing diversity clearly creates competitive advantage; for the past two years, LSI has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Global Innovators as measured by patent-related metrics.
Elephants, Epidemics and Innovation
Studies support this connection and demonstrate that a diverse workforce can positively impact the bottom line. It also promotes and nurtures an atmosphere of innovation and productivity – two key ingredients that contribute to a company’s profitability. The book, “The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation” by Frans Johansson does a good job of making the case that diversity in our workforce is a fundamental element of breakthrough innovation and creativity. Johansson’s book is worth a quick read.
Let’s look at it another way. Employers who hire people of differing racial, ethnic and gender backgrounds stand a better chance of grabbing larger market share because they are, essentially, reflecting the makeup of their consumer base. In other words, their workers are a reflection of the customers they serve or want to attract.
By tapping into a diverse pool of candidates, a company has a much better chance of drawing in the best and brightest. I’ve found this to be the case time and again here at LSI. We deliberately pursue potential employees who have varying backgrounds, knowing that this increases our odds of ending up with the “cream of the crop.”
From an employee’s perspective, job hunters are inclined to seek out companies that treat their workers fairly, regardless of ethnicity, race or gender. They know that these employers foster a progressive work atmosphere that, in turn, boosts employee morale and encourages employees to work more efficiently and responsively. Who wouldn’t want to work for that type of employer?
So how do you create an environment that embraces diversity? It starts with leaders who role model a culture that values different opinions and experiences. For example, at LSI we work hard to put our executives in front of employees on a regular basis to have transparent and candid dialogue about our company and our culture. In these sessions, we encourage our employees to question and challenge our executives in an “unconstrained” but objective way. Diverse opinions and experiences matter.
Our workforce also reflects the generational side of diversity. With people living longer and retiring later, we have employees from several generations working together. Representatives from each generation bring with them their own distinct work habits, technological outlooks and customs. Respecting and taking advantage of what each generation brings to the table further strengthens a company’s chances for success.
An unknown author once said, “Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.” And if done well, possibly someday there will be a “ring tone” that memorializes our work.