Companies today have realised that diversity is their ticket to remaining relevant into the future and prospering. Workplace diversity is not a trendy catch phrase, it’s a good business decision.

A 2015 Mckinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above industry mean.

It’s all about how we think or prefer to think that governs our decision making. Diversity in thinking gives us a broad perspective, allows us to appeal to a wider market and remain relevant.

Profiles of interesting and famous people

The image above shows the thinking preference of some famous people throughout history. Knowing who they are, their feats and what they are famous for will help us to understand their thinking preference. Clearly a hugely diverse group!

Thomas Jefferson, Albert Schweitzer and Abraham Lincoln, who sit bang in the middle, are part of only 3 % of the population that are ‘whole brain thinkers’, for the rest of us we lean toward a preference and for some of our famous friends toward the outer part of the circle, a strong preference.

HBDI Whole Brain® Thinking – Helping map our diversity

Understanding, mapping and harnessing the power of diversity is where the real power lies.

Following is a little more insight into the key elements of thinking preference from the four quadrants. In organisations, teams or any decision making group for that matter, we need these perspectives.

What role might these people have played?

To the CFO who said to the CEO:

“What happens if we train our people and they leave?”

Maybe Jeff Bezos (Amazon) or Einstein was the CEO that said:

“What happens if we don’t and they stay!”

And remember the initial response by United Airlines’ CEO to the passenger off-loading fiasco? It enraged many, because he defended the actions and deflected blame.

Maybe if Eleanor Roosevelt had reviewed that press release, it may never have been released the way it was. Perhaps instead expressing something like: ‘unqualified regret for the distress our actions caused. We accept responsibility, and pledge to do better.’

Diversity of thought – a challenge, and an opportunity!

Everyday, we see examples of one thinking preference dictating an outcome, when the situation required a different approach, and in the case of things like the United Airlines scenario, we scratch our head and wonder… how could that happen?

This is not just in the corporate world but in all walks of life, and in thousands of decisions that are made. It presents us with some of our greatest challenges.

There is no one thinking preference better or worse, stronger or weaker, but different situations require different perspectives and solutions to achieve desired outcomes.

This can be harnessed by organisations, but to do this, we need our Einsteins, Aristotles, Thatchers and equally, our Eleanor Roosevelts, they need to be identified and given a voice.

It also helps us to stretch and challenge our own thinking preference within an organisation, and helps us to grow as thinkers and leaders.

The tangible facts are there to support diversity and diversity of thought. How does your organisation rate?

Who would you have on your board?

So knowing what we know, here is your chance to pick your four board members from history. Share on your preferred channel and let us know from the image above who you would pick? And if you feel so inclined, tell us why!