September 6, 2021, 5 minutes read
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Too often, diversity is confined to a single HR department. Diversification is too large to be restricted to one department. It is also too important for innovation and too important. As we think about race and gender, it's important to also consider cognitive diversity and acquired (experienced) diversity in teams as part of cross-team cooperation. To break down the barriers that prevent diversity from being isolated, we need new ways to work with less people and between teams. The greatest chance of innovation is when there are more people with different skills and backgrounds. This is directly linked to diversity.
Related: 8 Ways to Create Diversity in Your Team and Why You Need It
Silos are a problem
It is easy to imagine a silo. They are vertically shaped and can be used for bulk storage, such as one type of grain. Siloes are sealed well to reduce airflow. Many times, silos in work are identical. Each silo is made up of people who share the silos' purpose and are very similar. My company has written about the dangers of silos. These include duplication of efforts, poor information sharing, power struggles, and other factors that do not sound like they are designed to produce optimal performance. We find that our best work is produced when we have a wider team and more collaboration between employees from different departments. It often seems like there are unicorns in this regard when you read the media. When researching this article, I found a recent article on cross-silo leadership. It suggested that cultural brokers were needed to bridge silos. If it is so difficult to collaborate within your company, you are simply doing it wrong. The problem is not solved by removing the silo or adding another layer to it. Trust can't be built inside or outside of silos that look, think, and act remarkably alike.
Creating diversity and inclusion through innovation
Diversity in corporate settings is often discussed in terms of hiring and census factors such as race, gender, age. A diverse mix of these elements has been proven to be beneficial in many areas, including the prediction of greater financial success. Diversity in a company does not end with HR. Diversification is an important aspect of forming work teams. A conference room with 10 people might appear to be the pinnacle for diversity at first glance. Are our diversity goals being met if that table doesn't include representatives from all levels of the company, or from other departments with similar goals?
Un-siloed cross teams must not only be made up of people who are performing similar jobs at the same stage in their careers, but also those of similar ages and even similar looks to ensure optimal results. If you break the silo and just spill the same grain onto the ground, your company isn't un-siloed. The airflow may be better, but there is no way to create new forms without adding other ingredients. Hierarchical diversity can occur in a department. A manager may meet with her entire team every now and again. Who is invited to the meetings of cross-collaborating teams? It might be beneficial for someone in a junior position to hear the thoughts of an executive from another department. Companies will benefit from having teams that includes staff from the entry-level through to the upper management. This will help with their bottom line, staff retention and promotion, and ultimately innovation. Inspiration is not a one-way road. As easily as mentoring senior staff, junior staff can also be mentors for senior staff. Some people have even suggested that top-down management is obsolete. This is not the industrial age; teams and networks are quickly replacing hierarchy.
Related: 5 Ways to Create an Inclusive Workplace Right Now
The end product of an integrated, un-siloed and diverse organization
Companies must collaborate across departments and hierarchies to un-silo. They also need to look at each person at the table and ask two important questions: first, how does this person contribute to the growth and innovation of the project? and second, how can they help the others around them grow and innovate. This will be important for the next project and the next. Unsiloing diversity is working in a way that promotes collaboration between a wider range of people, products, and teams. This is truly un-siloing.
Related: 5 Tips to Deal Better With Workplace Diversity