People First

The power of outliers


Diversity of thinking is an integral component in successful marketing

When it comes to solving complex problems, personal or otherwise, we often ask others for advice. We surmise that it’s important to get another perspective. Why is this? Well, it’s because not everyone thinks like we do or has the same experiences of a particular situation.

So why don’t we do it often enough in business?

Aside from our own unconscious biases we often put up systemic barriers when it comes to creating a diverse workforce. How many times do we see jobs advertised with ‘must have experience in a particular sector or ‘must have a good degree from a red brick college’.

Of course we want the brightest and finest for our teams but looking for people with experiences outside our category or without a traditional career pathway is sometimes the best way to drive real change in a business. True talent exists in spades in so many places, if only we would look for it.

We do it because it's comfortable. Working with people who are similar to you and agree with what you say feels good, but it limits our ability to think differently and in a hugely competitive and fast moving environment that is a competitive disadvantage.

Fortunately we are waking up to the fact that a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is absolutely critical to innovation and the development of new ideas.

It makes business sense and there is a wealth of research to prove it. According to a study conducted by McKinsey, companies with higher executive-level gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform their peers in net income and research by Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation.

In many market sectors we have an oversupply of lookalike products, so our ability to re-frame problems and think differently is business critical.

Diversity of thinking, and the gender, generational and cultural perspectives that drive it is an integral component in successful marketing. So if we are to continue to drive creativity and innovation for our clients, to be relevant to consumers then we need to take this seriously.

It’s also important to hold a mirror up. The media and marketing industries may not have the same diversity problem as Big Tech but given that we are still dominated by white, middle-class, and at a senior level, males, we still have some work to do. We need to knock down the barriers that exist and stop doing what we have always done.

In the marketing and media world we are always told to ‘think outside the box’. So it’s about time we started doing that.

Michelle Davis is a Managing Partner and a Diversity and Inclusion Ally at MediaCom Ireland, she also sits on the Diversity and Inclusion board of IAPI

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